Poll: Rating Roberts’ Answers; Ruling on the Pledge

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According to a new FOX News poll, more than half of Americans think Supreme Court nominee John Roberts (search) did an excellent or good job answering questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Many think the next nominee will face more opposition than Roberts did.

The poll finds 54 percent of Americans think Roberts did either an "excellent" (25 percent) or "good" (29 percent) job answering the Senate committee’s questions earlier this month. About a quarter rate his performance negatively (16 percent "only fair" and 8 percent "poor"), and another 22 percent could not give an opinion.

It should be no surprise that Republicans were much more inclined than Democrats to give Roberts high marks. More than four in 10 Republicans (43 percent) think he did an excellent job, while less than one in 10 Democrats (8 percent) think so.

By more than three-to-one the public believes that Senators who vote against confirming Roberts are more likely to be doing so purely for political reasons (64 percent) than because they truly believe he is not suitable (20 percent).

All 55 Senate Republicans along with 22 Democrats and 1 independent voted to confirm Roberts earlier today and 22 Democrats voted against. John Roberts will become the 17th chief justice and take the seat of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died September 3.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News on September 27-28.

Previous FOX News polling found that most Americans (75 percent) expected the Senate to confirm Roberts, and a clear majority (62 percent) said they thought he was qualified to serve as chief justice (14-15 Sep 2005).

"It is clear that Roberts’ personal appearance and demeanor reassured many Americans that he will be a reasonable chief justice," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "He didn’t have a record of public statements like Robert Bork nor did he draw personal opposition as did Clarence Thomas."

Now that Roberts has been confirmed, it is likely that President Bush will soon announce his nominee to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. According to the poll, many voters (58 percent) think the next nominee will face more opposition than Roberts did.

God and the Pledge

Earlier this month a California federal judge ruled it is unconstitutional to require students to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools, calling it a "coercive requirement to affirm God." This week’s FOX News poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly disagree.

Fully 87 percent of Americans disagree that the pledge is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, up from 83 percent when a similar question was asked in 2002.

In addition, 89 percent think the phrase "under God" should remain in the pledge, with fewer than one in 10 saying they want it removed. These results closely resemble those found earlier this year when 92 percent said the motto "in God we trust" should remain on U.S. currency and coins and only 5 percent said it should be removed (25-26 April 2005).

Among those most likely to want "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance are liberals (17 percent) and moderates (13 percent). Hardly any conservatives (2 percent) think the phrase should go.

Finally, the poll shows that a 54 percent majority of Americans agree with the sentiment that the country is becoming "anti-religion," while 39 percent disagree.

• PDF: Click here for full poll results.