Poll: Greater diversity on Supreme Court not an issue for most Americans

Chris Rizo May 13, 2009, 11:29am

United State Supreme Court

President Obama

WASHINGTON - The majority of Americans say they are in no hurry for President Barack Obama to specifically appoint a minority or a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, a poll indicates.

A Gallup poll released Wednesday says 64 percent of respondents said it does not matter to them whether the Democratic president appoints a woman, while 68 percent of those surveyed said it doesn't matter whether Obama names a Hispanic justice, and 74 percent said it doesn't matter to them if he appoints an African American justice.

Just 6 percent of Americans surveyed said it was "essential" that Obama appoint a woman, while an additional 26 percent said they think it would be "a good idea, but not essential," Gallup reported.

"There has been very little change over the last four years in the public's feelings about the next justice's being Hispanic or black," Gallup said in its analysis. "There is simply no large groundswell of demand from the American public for the appointment of a new justice who possesses particular demographic characteristics."

The independent poll comes as Obama mulls potential replacements for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice David Souter, a reliably liberal vote on the nation's highest court. Obama has said he is seeking a nominee who has a range of life experience and who exhibits "empathy" as well as a keen intellect.

"By all accounts, there is a high probability that Obama will in fact appoint a woman, and perhaps one who is either black or Hispanic, no doubt in response to his own beliefs and/or pressure from certain interest groups or constituencies," Gallup said. "It does not appear, however, that he would need to do so in response to the feelings of the broad constituency of average Americans."

The poll of 1,015 adults was conducted May 7-10. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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