- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2017

Most Americans want President-elect Donald Trump to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with a like-minded legal thinker who will interpret the Constitution “as it was originally written.”

A Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll released on Monday shows 52 percent of Americans prefer a Supreme Court justice who will interpret the Constitution based on its original meaning, while 40 percent want one who will discover what the Constitution “means now.”

A majority, 56 percent, said appointing a new justice to the Supreme Court is an “immediate priority” for the Trump administration.​

The survey also found that Americans, regardless of political party, support a broad understanding of religious freedom.

Respondents said religious liberty should be protected even when it conflicts with positive law 65 percent to 25 percent — a view shared by 74 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats.

Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, said Americans have “rightly rejected the false notion that [religious freedom] is something negative.”

“They overwhelmingly support the protection of our first freedom, the free exercise of religion,” Mr. Anderson said in a statement. “And not surprisingly, most Americans value the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and therefore see as an immediate priority the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the document as written.”

The survey polled 2,729 people from Dec. 12 to Dec. 19 by landline or mobile phone​. It ​has a margin of error of 1.9 percent.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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