A new Marist Poll found that the majority of Americans — 89 percent — believe protecting religious freedom is an important undertaking, with 57 percent calling it an “immediate priority.”
While Republicans were the most likely (66 percent) to see the issue as one of immediate importance, the poll, which was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus, found that 55 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Independents agreed. These are intriguing findings, considering the ongoing debate over the balance between gay rights and religious liberty.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who heads the Catholic organization that commissioned the survey, said in a statement that he believes the results show that Americans “have embraced religious freedom and have rightly rejected the false notion that it is something negative” — something that he said is observed among people from all political parties.
“And not surprisingly, most Americans value the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and therefore see as an immediate priority the appointment of justices to the Supreme Court who will interpret the document as written,” Anderson said.
Of course, there’s a seemingly never-ending debate about the nature of the Constitution’s underpinnings as well as the true intentions of the Founding Fathers on a variety of issues, thus the “original intent” arguments might vary depending on one’s worldview and party affiliation.
With that in mind, the Marist Poll also found majority support for an interpretation of the Constitution as it was originally written and intended. Overall, 80 percent of respondents said it is at least important — if not an immediate priority — for the government to appoint and confirm Supreme Court justices who “will interpret the constitution as it was originally written.”
“By 12 percentage points, a majority of Americans (52 percent versus 40 percent) want the court to interpret the constitution ‘as it was originally written’ and not on what they think the ‘constitution means now,'” read a press release announcing the results. “Independents agree (50 percent to 42 percent), as do Republicans (78 percent to 18 percent). Even three in 10 Democrats share this opinion (31 percent), and about six in 10 do not (59 percent).”
The poll was conducted among 2,729 adults age 18 and older from Dec. 12 through Dec. 19, with a reported margin of error of +/- 1.9 percentage points. The results are being released just days before president-elect Donald Trump is set to be inaugurated to become the nation’s 45th president.
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