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Public split on approval of U.S. Supreme Court: poll

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About a year after the U.S. Supreme Court delivered one of its most important opinions in modern history in upholding President Obama’s heath care overhaul, new numbers from a CNN/ORC poll says the public is evenly divided on the court’s job approval.

Forty-eight percent approve of the way the court is doing its job and 48 percent disapprove — down from a 53 percent/43 percent approve/disapprove split in a poll released in the immediate aftermath of the health care decision last year.

Cases involving three major issues are currently before the court — gay marriage, the Voting Rights Act, and affirmative action. Decisions on the constitutionality of the issues could be handed down as early as Thursday.

Public opinion on gay marriage has jumped 24 points since December 2003, when 31 percent said marriage between homosexuals should be recognized by law as valid with the same rights as traditional marriages. That number ticked up to 44 percent in June 2008 (when the question wording was apparently changed to “marriages between gay and lesbian couples”) and 55 percent today.

Sixty percent say the federal government should legalize recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where gay marriage is legal, and 54 percent say homosexual relationships between consenting adults is “not a moral issue,” compared to 44 percent who say it’s morally wrong.

Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of respondents say they disapprove of affirmative action admissions policies at colleges and law schools that give racial preferences to minority applicants.

Forty-eight percent say the Voting Rights Act, passed by the federal government in the 1960s to prevent state and local governments to prevent states and localities from discriminating against minority voters, is no longer necessary, compared to 50 percent who think it is.

That figure is slightly down from January 2009, soon after President Obama became the first black man to be elected president, when 52 percent thought it was still necessary and 47 percent thought it was not.

The survey of 1,014 adults conducted from June 11-13 has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

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