WASHINGTON - Americans say that senators voting on Supreme Court nominees should consider the candidates' positions on issues like affirmative action and abortion before voting on whether they should be confirmed, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.
When asked whether President Bush's nominee for chief justice, Judge John G. Roberts Jr., should be confirmed, 63 percent said they were unable to offer an opinion. Of those who did, 26 percent said he should be confirmed and only 8 percent said the Senate should not vote to confirm him.
Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts listens to a question from Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) during the second day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington September 13, 2005. Roberts was pressed by senators for his views on the strength of established legal precedent with regard to the controversial issue of abortion rights and the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion case. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
But Judge Roberts received more support from those who have been following the news about his nomination. Among respondents who said they were following news about Judge Roberts's nomination, 39 percent support his confirmation, and 11 percent said the Senate should vote against it.
Of all the respondents, most Republicans backed Judge Roberts; 51 percent said he should be confirmed and only 2 percent would rather see him rejected. Democrats were more closely divided: 13 percent for confirmation and 14 percent against. The rest did not offer a response.
In his two days of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Roberts answered many questions from committee members but generally avoided providing his own legal views on issues like abortion and affirmative action, saying he did not want to be seen as prejudging any matters that might come before him if he joins the court.
Asked whether it was important that senators "know his position on issues such as abortion and affirmative action" before voting on Judge Roberts's confirmation, 46 percent said it was "very important," and 31 percent said it was "somewhat important." About 9 percent said it was "not very important" while 13 percent said it was not at all important, with the rest having no opinion.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Friday through Tuesday with 1,167 adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
© 2005 New York Times Company