A disturbing new survey by Rasmussen Reports found that nearly half of Democrats surveyed support the idea of a president ignoring a court ruling against them if he thinks it is “important for the country.”
Only 26 percent of likely voters surveyed agreed with the concept of an imperial presidency, but fully 43 percent of Democrats do.
But perhaps more unsettling to supporters of constitutional checks and balances is the finding that 43% of Democrats believe the president should have the right to ignore the courts. Only 35% of voters in President Obama’s party disagree, compared to 81% of Republicans and 67% of voters not affiliated with either major party.
Fifty-two percent (52%) of all voters believe, generally speaking, that court challenges of actions approved by the president and Congress help protect the rights of U.S. citizens. Thirty percent (30%), however, consider such challenges mostly nuisances that stand in the way of good policy. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure.
On the issue of preserving the concept of co-equal branches of government and checks and balances, Rasmussen finds:
Thirty-one percent (31%) think it is more important for government to operate efficiently than it is to preserve our system of checks and balances. Nearly twice as many (59%) place more importance on maintaining checks and balances. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.
The percentage of Democrats supporting the concept of an executive ignoring the courts would undoubtedly drop significantly were the president a Republican, just as Republican support for the concept would probably rise.
There are significant differences in support for executive branch powers when it comes to age and gender.
Women and younger voters feel more strongly than men and those 40 and older that the president should have the right to ignore federal court rulings. Black voters believe that more than whites and other minority voters do.