For Immediate Release:
May 9, 2016
Support for Confirmation Hearings Strong Among Both Political Parties
CINCINNATI — When it comes to the role of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ohio voters are most concerned about protecting voting rights, the Constitution and ensuring that all Americans are treated fairly – regardless of ethnicity, race, gender or sexual orientation, according to a new national poll released today.
No matter what issues drive voters, a strong bi-partisan majority wants the U.S. Senate to hold confirmation hearings on President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacant seat on the nation’s highest court. Sen. Rob Portman and others who oppose hearings are viewed less favorably, the poll shows.
“There is never a good time to a have an open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court,’’ Samuel Gresham Jr., Chair of Common Cause Ohio, told a news conference held outside Portman’s office.
“Having an open seat during a presidential election year – especially for a state like Ohio — is unacceptable. If you live in Ohio, you probably know it’s an election year and you also know that somebody probably is going to try and make it harder for some people to vote.’’
Gresham referenced recent court victories that protected voting rights after Ohio politicians tried to limit them. Courts struck down a mandatory training session before a person could register and a requirement for naturalized citizens to show their papers before voting; and restored the last three days of early voting, he said.
“It’s clear that voters in Ohio, and across the nation, want the Senate to hold confirmation hearings,’’ said Sandy Theis, who leads Why Courts Matter Ohio, a coalition of Ohio-based organizations that favor hearings and an up-or-down vote on the nominee. “By a 2-to-1 margin, Ohio voters said they look less favorably on Sen. Portman because he argues that the Senate should block any person President Obama nominates.’’
The poll was conducted April 25-27 by GBA Strategies. It included a national survey and statewide polls in Ohio and five other states.
A series of recent polls shows Portman tied with Democratic challenger, former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.
GBA’s national poll showed that 69 percent of respondents support confirmation hearings. That support includes 79 percent of self-identified Democrats, 67 percent of independents, 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of self-identified conservatives/libertarians.
Immigration lawyer Jorge Martinez told the news conference that he is anxiously awaiting the court’s ruling on United States vs. Texas, a case that will determine whether millions of people living in the country illegally will get a reprieve from the threat of deportation.
“This case is now before four justices who are conservative and four who are liberal. If this case results in a tie, it would be devastating to those who want this matter resolved and to the communities they serve,’’ Martinez said.
He accused Senate Republican leaders of “denigrating the Senate,’’ and said, “Their efforts to block any nominee is further evidence of their disregard for the oaths they have taken.’’
The GBA poll included 4,200 interviews with registered voters nationally, including 600 Ohioans. It showed 65 percent of Ohioans support confirmation hearings and 30 percent do not. It also showed that 38 percent view Portman less favorably because of his position on the court vacancy, 17 percent view him more favorably and the remaining 45 percent had no opinion.
Issues of importance include “Making sure the President and Congress do not overstep their Constitutional authorities” (93 percent); “Protecting the rights of all people to vote and participate in the political process,” (90 percent); and “Ensuring that all Americans are treated equally regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation” (85 percent).