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Majority of Americans Say It’s Time to Place Term Limits on the Supreme Court

The poll found that Americans support expanding the Supreme Court by a 7 point margin.

Abortion rights activists gather in front of the Supreme Court following the 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on June 26, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

A new poll taken in the wake of the Supreme Court’s extremist decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and destabilize abortion rights across the country shows that a large portion of the American public think that it’s time to take action to rein in and reform the Court.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll was taken directly after the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling was handed down on Friday, and found that 62 percent of Americans support placing term limits on justices, while only 23 percent oppose the idea. The survey also found strong support for binding Supreme Court justices to a code of ethics (69 percent) and supposedly “balancing” the Court with an equal number of Democratic, Republican and independent judges (53 percent).

Critically, the poll also found that there appears to be growing support among the public for adding seats to the Supreme Court, a measure that Democrats and progressives have been calling for in order to combat Republican court packing.

The poll found that a plurality of Americans support expanding the Supreme Court, with 45 percent in support of the idea and 38 percent in opposition. This is a far higher number than the mere 26 percent of voters who backed the idea in a Morning Consult poll conducted in April 2021.

That there is a plurality of support for the idea is also surprising considering that the idea was largely unknown to the public just a handful of years ago. Notably, the last time the number of seats on the Court was changed was in 1869, about 80 years after the Court was convened for the first time. This shift in opinion signals that the public is prepared to support transformative actions in response to the extremist decisions that the Supreme Court has been handing down.

Lawmakers have been calling for an expansion of the Court in response to the Dobbs ruling and other recent rulings, as well as potentially upcoming rulings that could overturn rights like gay marriage and contraception access.

Democrats introduced a bill last year that would add four seats to the Supreme Court, with the hope of installing a new Democratic majority on the Court. President Joe Biden opposes this idea, which has frustrated progressives, especially because Republicans have bent and changed rules for years in order to pack the Supreme Court with the current slate of extremists.

In May, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) introduced a bill that would require Supreme Court justices to be bound to a code of ethics, as the High Court is the only court in the country that’s not bound to ethics rules. Democrats have also introduced bills to create a non-renewable 18-year term limit for Supreme Court justices, an idea supported by Supreme Court watchdogs.

None of these measures have gone anywhere in Congress, but progressives have suggested another potential action for Democrats hoping to stop the erosion of human rights in the U.S.: impeaching Supreme Court justices who allegedly lied in their confirmation hearings.

On Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) called for Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett to be impeached, on the basis that all three previously pledged in their confirmation or in private meetings that they would uphold landmark precedents previously set by the Court, according to lawmakers. She also called for Justice Clarence Thomas to be impeached over his wife’s ties to conservative organizations and the January 6 attack.

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