Overturning Roe sends approval of U.S. Supreme Court plummeting, new national poll finds

A new poll finds approval for the U.S. Supreme Court has plummeted in the aftermath of the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade — Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that overturned a national right to abortion, public approval of the Court has fallen dramatically and stayed there, a new national poll from Marquette Law School finds.

In the new survey, 40% of respondents said they approved of how the Court was doing its job while 60% said they disapproved.

The survey also found that 61% of those surveyed opposed the June 24 high court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states.

“I think it very clearly drives this shift in views of the court,” Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, said of the ruling striking down Roe. Franklin spoke in an interview posted on the law school’s YouTube channel.

The new survey is the 10th national Marquette Law School Poll focusing on the U.S. Supreme Court. The new survey polled 1,448 adults and was conducted online Sept. 7-14. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

Approval of the Court has been falling in the last two years, and has now almost completely flipped. In a September 2020 poll, 66% of those surveyed said they approved of the Court, while 33% disapproved. The last survey to register a net positive approval took place in March 2022, when 54% said they approved of how the Court was handling its job and 45% disapproved.

The Court’s approval went under water just after a draft was leaked in May of the pending abortion ruling in the Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the Marquette poll’s May 9-19 survey, 44% of respondents said they approved of the Court’s work and 55% said they disapproved.

With the July 5-12 survey, the first after the decision itself, the gap grew wider: 38% said they approved of the Court and 61% disapproved. Those numbers changed only slightly with the new survey, Franklin said.

In addition to losing public approval, the Court has also lost public confidence, according to the Marquette poll. In the new survey, 30% said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Court, while 36% said they had “very little” confidence or “none at all.”

In September 2019, when the first Marquette national survey on the Court was conducted, 37% said they were confident and 20% not confident in the Court, Franklin said. In the new survey, confidence fell by 7 points, but “not confident” increased by 16 points, he observed.

In addition to the overall negative shift in views of the Court, the new poll also found a sharper partisan division. Among Republicans in the survey, 65% said they approved and 34% disapproved. Among Democrats, 24% said they approved and 76% disapproved, while 35% of independents approved and 66% disapproved.

“Partisan differences are larger than they used to be,” Franklin said. In the July 2021 survey, when 60% approved and 40% disapproved, “there was very little partisan difference.”

Erik Gunn is the deputy editor of the Wisconsin examiner, which first published this report.

Preaching justice and mercy, acclaimed lawyer, writer Bryan Stevenson visits Duke

Acclaimed writer and lawyer Bryan Stevenson talks with Duke Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022.

If there was one thing Bryan Stevenson could say to legislators when they’re writing laws to punish people convicted of crimes, the acclaimed writer and lawyer told a crowd at Duke University Wednesday night, he would encourage them to push past their anger and fear so they can see how much pain they are inflicting on people who wind up behind bars.

“Our policymakers actually think they can put crimes in prison,” Stevenson said. “You can only put a person in prison. And what I want to talk to them about is that people are not crimes. They can commit crimes, but they are not crimes, and if we believe that, then we cannot believe that these sentences are just.”

Last night Stevenson sat with Duke Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery for a public conversation titled “Seeking Justice and Redemption in the Public Square.”

Stevenson is the author of the popular memoir Just Mercy and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit that provides legal services to people denied a fair trial, including those who may have been wrongly convicted of their crimes. The organization challenges the death penalty, provides reentry assistance to formerly incarcerated people who are going home and works to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S.

The Equal Justice Initiative’s work has led to reversals, relief or release from prison for more than 135 people wrongly sent to death row. The group has also won important legal cases getting rid of excessive sentences, exonerating innocent people on death row, addressing the abuse of incarcerated and mentally ill people, and helping children prosecuted as adults for criminal charges.

Wednesday’s conversation mostly centered on justice and mercy. Stevenson talked about his work with people on death row, the emotional toll such work takes — and the importance of doing it, especially in a country that refuses to reckon with its past, in a time when democracy in the U.S. is in peril.

“I feel like we’ve been allowed to be silent about things about which no one should be silent. You can’t have a genocide of indigenous people [where] millions of people die and not talk about it,” he said. You can’t enslave people for two and a half centuries and not talk about it, not understand it;  you can’t lynch thousands of Black people and cause six million to flee the American South… and not address the trauma and the injury that that created.”

Central to Stevenson’s work is the idea that everyone is worthy of justice, compassion and mercy, even those he referred to as “the broken,” the men, women and children he represents as an attorney. People are more than the worst thing they have ever done, Stevenson said; a person not just a liar when they tell a lie, nor are they just a killer when they take another person’s life. People, Stevenson was saying, contain multitudes.

“To be broken is to not mean that you should be condemned,” he said. “And in fact, it’s the broken among us that can sometimes teach us what recovery is all about, what redemption is all about. It’s the broken that can teach us what it means to be fully human because they have experienced the inhumanity of being crushed by something.”

Stevenson’s visit at Duke — co-sponsored by Duke Chapel, the Sanford School, and the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law — features two speeches and a lunch event that will take place at 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 3043 at Duke Law.

Stevenson is speaking at Duke again tonight at 5:00, in a separate address titled “Standing for Equal Justice.” To register for the livestream, click here.

U.S. government failed to properly count deaths of people in prisons and jails, Senate report says

Lawmakers get update on soon-to-be launched Department of Adult Correction

 

Employee retention and recruitment will be a focal point for the soon-to-be launched Department of Adult Correction, the agency’s chief deputy secretary for administration told lawmakers on Thursday.

“Like everybody else, we’ve been impacted by the Great Resignation,” Douglas Holbrook told members of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety. “We’re putting the wellness of our employees at the forefront because it’s a challenging job.”

Douglas Holbrook, Dept. of Public Safety

Lawmakers voted in 2011 to put the state’s Department of Correction within the Department of Public Safety as a cost-cutting measure intended to make the government run smoother. Legislators reversed course in 2021 negotiations, opting to return to a system similar to before, creating the Department of Adult Correction, which will officially launch Jan. 1. The employees currently working for DPS will be transferred to the DAC in the coming months.

Holbrook briefed legislators Thursday on the plans for the massive new state agency, which will oversee the nearly 30,000 people incarcerated in the state’s 54 prisons, 65,000 people on probation and 10,000 post-release supervision. Not to mention the 21,000 people expected to be employed by the agency.

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Durham hosting “ShotSpotter” community forums starting this weekend

Screen grab of Shotspotter technology (Video: Shotspotter.com)

This weekend the City of Durham will host the first of at least four community forums on the use of ShotSpotter technology to reduce crime.

ShotSpotter is a controversial tool used by police departments across the country to reduce gun violence. Sensors alert police when guns are fired, helping them respond faster. Microphones will be placed in a three-square-mile radius in Durham for the one-year pilot program. The first three months will be free. The next nine will cost $197,500.

The ShotSpotter website argues the sensors give police valuable data on how to manage their limited resources to deter crime and reduce violence. Critics, meanwhile, contend that the technology is often deployed in communities of color, which already are over-policed, and that program’s effectiveness is unknown and hasn’t been peer-reviewed.

Others have found serious issues with using ShotSpotter evidence in court, suggesting that innocent people can be sent to prison because of faulty technology or human bias overriding the gunshot detection algorithm.

The Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department chose not to renew its ShotSpotters contract in 2016, stating that the results didn’t justify the cost.

ShotSpotter is projected to go live in Durham on Nov. 15, joining other North Carolina cities like Fayetteville, Goldsboro and Winston-Salem that use the technology. Durham officials will hold several community forums on the technology before then, beginning this Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10:30 a.m. at Camps Hills Recreation Center.

Per the city website, the community forums are scheduled for:

DISTRICT 1 PAC– TBD

DISTRICT 2 PAC– September 12, 2022 @ 6:00PM, Edison Johnson Recreation Center, 500 W. Murray, Durham, NC 27704

DISTRICT 3 PAC– October 8, 2022 @ 9:30AM, Lyon Park Community & Recreation Center 1309 Halley Street, Durham, NC 27707

DISTRICT 4 & 5 PAC– September 10, 2022 @ 10:30AM, Campus Hills Recreation Center, 2000 South Alston Avenue, Durham, NC 27701

MCDOUGALD TERRACE COMMUNITY– September 16, 2022 @ 2:00PM, Location TBD

DURHAM BUSINESSES AGAINST CRIME (BAC)– TBD