Judge Sonia Sotomayor enjoys the public's support, a CNN/Opinion Research poll reported this morning; 47 percent of the 1,026 respondents said she should be confirmed, 40 said she shouldn't, and 13 percent were unsure.
But, other than Harriet Miers, previous nominees were held higher in the public's esteem. Yes/no splits on the same question were 60/26 for John Roberts, 54/30 for Samuel Alito, 53/14 for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 52/17 for Clarence Thomas, according to previous numbers included in the CNN poll.
Buried in the findings, however, is an interesting nugget on how Americans think senators should base their votes--namely, the public is split on whether issues like abortion or gun control should determine how senators vote.
Though partisan concerns over court picks usually focus on such issues, judges and politicians alike are typically reluctant to approach nominations from that angle. Judges commonly say they won't flatly state a preference on abortion, for instance, given that each case is unique and they don't want to state, ahead of time, how they'd rule. Hence the question, "Do you think the Roe v. Wade decision was a good one?"
Jurisprudence is supposed to be independent of politics and policy; it's a fair mind and even temperament, not particular stances, that is supposed to be sought in nominees.