The June 24 U.S. Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, which reversed the constitutional right to abortion established a half-century earlier by Roe v. Wade, is being seen as the "motivating factor" in New Jerseyans' distrust of the high court, as revealed in a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

Ashley Koning, Rutgers assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, said the survey of more than 1,000 adults in the Garden State found 35% of respondents don't trust SCOTUS at all, while 26% don't have much trust currently.

"The overturning of Roe was a driving force," Koning said. "It really has revived the culture wars in American politics and has impacted perceptions of the Court as well as, of course, as we head into the thick of the election cycle for Congressional elections."

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Koning said there is a perception that the upcoming midterms would otherwise look disastrous for Democrats if not for the Dobbs decision, which may motivate some who disagreed with it to get out and vote next month.

More than two-thirds (68%) of New Jersey adults said they disagreed with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Then again, Koning said, motivation has two sides.

Much like the rest of the country, New Jerseyans are more likely to disagree than agree with some of these rulings, really driven by this Dobbs decision. Of course, we see that partisanship has some stark divides," Koning said. "Republicans are much more trusting of the Court than Democrats or independents. They're also much more likely than their counterparts to believe the Court has just the right amount of power. Democrats, on the other hand, feel the Court has too much power.

Overall, the question of power did not provide as clear-cut of a response as trust. Just over half (51%) of those surveyed said they felt SCOTUS held too much power, while 41% said it was the right amount and 4% actually said too little.

"Of course, women being more likely than men to believe the Supreme Court has too much power, more likely to have little trust in the Court than men, and disagreeing with the Court's decisions at higher rates than men," Koning said.

Nearly two-thirds of New Jerseyans are concerned to some degree about what the Dobbs decision may mean for future Supreme Court rulings. Again, slightly more than half (51%) said they were very concerned, and another 14% were somewhat concerned.

The poll, which was taken about a month after the Court's abortion ruling, did not ask about the rumored expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to shift its ideological balance.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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