United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who may or may not have been separated at birth from Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” character from Saturday Night Live, may have signaled how she’ll decide Hollingsworth v. Perry (covered here by Travis) when she recently characterized the Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade as somewhat reactionary and hurried.
Americans would be broadly disappointed, argues former Romney 2012 chief data scientist and Target Point Consulting vice president and research director Alex Lundry, if the Court bases its Hollingsworth ruling on Ginsburg’s feelings about the Roe decision. It’s not that Lundry believes the Court shouldn’t be insulated from popular opinion. But when you set aside the substantive and legal differences between the two cases and the policy issues which they embody respectively, Americans fundamentally view gay marriage and abortion in different ways.
He writes in The Daily Caller, looking at opinion polling and demographic data from a number of sources:
A clear majority of the country favors providing same-sex couples with the ability to marry, while opinion on abortion has remained closely divided for almost 40 years. A March poll by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 58% of Americans support gay and lesbian Americans’ legal right to wed — a record high. That majority will likely grow into a broad-based consensus in the not-too-distant future, as polls reveal that more than four out of five voters under 30 support legalizing same-sex marriage.
By contrast, abortion has always been a controversial issue. Here, consensus is derived from compromise: a recent Gallup poll found that 52% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal only under certain circumstances. And unlike with same-sex marriage, there is no looming opinion shift on the issue — young voters are just as divided on abortion as their parents and grandparents.
Moreover, while attitudes toward same-sex marriage have shifted quickly and decisively over the last decade, beliefs on abortion have been incredibly stable. Just nine years ago, support for same-sex marriage was at only 32% according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, but since then it has grown an amazing 26 percentage points. The shift in opinion has been even more pronounced in states where same-sex marriage is already legal.