WASHINGTON – Americans think judicial experience should be the most important factor in selecting the next Supreme Court justice, far outdistancing other qualities such as the nominee's race, gender, sexual preference, and issue positions.
The latest FOX News poll shows nearly half of voters nationwide — 45 percent — think judicial experience should be the "single most important factor" in picking the next justice. Five percent say being a woman should be the single most important factor, 4 percent say being a minority and 4 percent say being a homosexual. About 1 in 10 people (12 percent) think sharing Barack Obama's views on key issues should be the single most important quality.
On the flip side, large majorities think it shouldn't matter whether the nominee is a woman (75 percent), a minority (75 percent) or a homosexual (66 percent). Far fewer, though still a large 47 percent minority, think it should not matter whether the nominee shares Obama's views.
Even among women, hardly any — 7 percent — say picking a woman should be the "single most important" factor. Right now, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is the only woman on the Supreme Court.
When asked to choose between a female nominee and a minority nominee, all things being equal, nearly three times as many say they would rather the next nominee be a woman — 35 percent to 13 percent. About half (47 percent) had no preference. Among women, 42 percent prefer a woman, 10 percent say a minority and 44 percent say either.
Over half of the public — 60 percent — says they are very or somewhat comfortable with Obama appointing the next justice, slightly higher than the 54 percent who said they were comfortable with former President Bush making the selection back in June 2005 when Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down.
Even the partisan split is about the same: 24 percent of Republicans say they are comfortable with Obama picking the next justice, while 22 percent of Democrats said they were comfortable with Bush doing so back in 2005.
Americans who are "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion are significantly more likely than "pro-life" Americans to say they are comfortable with Obama selecting the next justice (77 percent and 45 percent respectively).
Opinion Dynamics Corp.conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from May 12 to May 13. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
As for judicial philosophy, by 60 percent to 26 percent Americans think the Supreme Court should interpret the U.S. Constitution based on what the Framers meant when they wrote it rather than on what feels appropriate in today's world.
Justice Clinton? Gore? Winfrey?
More people think Hillary Clinton would make a good Supreme Court justice than think former Vice President Al Gore or media mogul Oprah Winfrey would do a good job sitting on the highest court in the land.
For Clinton, 42 percent think she would make a good justice, while 32 percent think Gore would and 16 percent think Oprah would. Women (48 percent) are more likely than men (35 percent) to think Clinton would be a good justice. For Oprah, there is less of a gender gap: 20 percent of women and 13 percent of men think she would do a good job.
You Too Could Be A Justice
Supreme Court justices do not have to be lawyers, so what about an average Joe or Jane American for the court? Quite a few people think that would be a good idea.
While 58 percent of Americans think Obama should pick one of the "smartest legal minds available," some 38 percent think he should go with a "regular everyday American."