Amy Coney Barrett is the least popular Supreme Court nominee in modern times
Judge Amy Coney Barrett (screengrab)

On Monday, Senate confirmation hearings began for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some Barrett critics, in Washington D.C., staged a nonviolent sit-in to protest Barrett's nomination, and 21 of them were arrested. But those protesters are not alone in their opposition to Barrett's nomination: according to polling data compiled by The Economist, Barrett is the least popular Supreme Court nominee of the last 27 years.


Only 42 percent of Americans support her appointment to the court, while 46 percent disapprove of the nomination. With a net -4 points of support, she faces the most public opposition of any recent nominee.

That's probably bad news for the Republican Party, which was facing strong headwinds going into the November election even without a controversial Supreme Court fight.

The Economist lists nine Supreme Court nominees, going back to Ginsburg in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. The least popular of the nine, The Economist reports, is Barrett — and the second least popular is Justice Brett Kavanuagh, nominated by Trump in 2018. The third least popular, according to The Economist, is another Trump nominee: Justice Neil Gorsuch, who Trump nominated in 2017 to fill the seat once held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The polling data that The Economist used for its list came not only from its own polling, but also, from polling by Gallup and CNN. All of that polling showed that Trump's three nominees have been the least popular.

The most popular of the nine, according to The Economist, is Ginsburg — with Justice Steven Breyer, another Clinton nominee, in second place and Chief Justice John Roberts (who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005) in third place. The fourth most popular, conservative Justice Samuel Alito, was nominated by Bush in 2006, and the fifth most popular, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009. The six most popular was Justice Elena Kagan, another Obama nominee.

The list only takes into account nominees of the last four presidents: Trump, Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton. Therefore, Justice Clarence Thomas, nominated by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, is not on the list.