Associated Press, November 29, 2004
want Roe v. Wade upheld
WASHINGTON --A majority of Americans say President
Bush's next choice for an opening on the Supreme
Court should be willing to uphold the landmark
court decision protecting abortion rights,
an Associated Press poll found.
The poll found that 59 percent say Bush should
choose a nominee who would uphold the 1973
Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
About three in 10, 31 percent, said they want
a nominee who would overturn the decision,
according to the poll conducted for the AP
by Ipsos-Public Affairs.
"While I don't have a strong feeling about
abortions personally, I wouldn't want the law
overturned and return to the days of backdoor
abortions," said Colleen Dunn, 40, a Republican
and community college teacher who lives outside
The preference for Supreme Court nominees who
would uphold Roe v. Wade could be found among
both men and women, most age groups, most income
groups and people living in urban, suburban
and rural areas. Fewer than half of Republicans,
evangelicals and those over 65 said they favored
a nominee who would uphold the abortion ruling.
Bush has sidestepped questions about whom he
would name to an opening, but has indicated
he would pick judges like those he picked in
his first term -- often young and conservative.
While the public is generally divided on the
abortion issue, polling consistently has found
a clear majority of people who think abortion
should be legal in at least some cases.
While there are no current openings on the high
court, only one of the nine justices, Clarence
Thomas, is under 65 and Chief Justice William
Rehnquist, 80, has thyroid cancer.
The AP-Ipsos poll found that six in 10 think
justices should face a mandatory retirement
The appointment of justices without term limits
or a mandatory retirement age historically
has helped to insulate the court from politics,
said Dennis Hutchinson of the University of
Chicago Law School. At the same time, that
can have the unintended consequence of letting
some justices serve beyond their most effective
The poll question mentioned no specific retirement
age. Appointment of Supreme Court justices
for life is dictated by the Constitution and
could be changed only by an amendment.
People over 65 were among those most likely to
favor mandatory retirement, according to the
"The justices hold office year after year,"
said Opal Bristow, an 84-year-old Democrat
and retired teacher who lives near San Antonio.
"Some of them are old codgers who need
to get out of the way and let the younger folks
with fresh ideas come in."
Most of those who have taken a position on whether
a nominee should uphold or overturn Roe v.
Wade say they wanted a nominee to state his
or her position on abortion before confirmation.
Nearly two-thirds of each group said they would
want to know.
The survey found that 61 percent of all respondents
said Supreme Court nominees should state their
position on abortion before being approved
for the job.
"In a perfect world they wouldn't have to
talk about it," said Kenneth Cole, 39,
a consultant from Columbus, Ohio, and a Republican
who leans toward wanting Roe v. Wade overturned.
"But whoever President Bush nominates,
people will know where they stand. They won't
be able to avoid the issue."
Another issue the Supreme Court will have to
deal with at some point is homosexual marriage.
By 61 percent to 35 percent, people opposed gay
marriage, with young adults between 18 and
29 about evenly split. Recent polls have indicated
people are about evenly divided on the question
of civil unions, which would provide many of
the same legal protections as gay marriage.
The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults was taken Nov.
19-21 and has a margin of sampling error of
plus or minus 3 percentage points.
<< Associated Press -- 11/29/04 >>
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