On October 6, the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, following a contentious confirmation battle. Kavanaugh will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in July after three decades on the court.
After the Senate’s deliberations over Kavanaugh, here’s a look at where the public stands on some of the major legal, political and social issues that could come before the justices in the years ahead, based on surveys conducted by Pew Research Center. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 55% of U.S. adults say they favor the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. A significant minority (37%) oppose the practice. While a majority of U.S. adults still support the death penalty, public opinion in favor of capital punishment has seen a modest decline since November 2011, the last time Pew Research asked the question. In 2011, fully six-in-ten U.S. adults (62%) favored the death penalty for murder convictions, and 31% opposed it. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
Contrary to the assumption that the death penalty is widely used in the U.S., only a few jurisdictions employ capital punishment extensively, according to the report. Only two percent of the counties in the U.S. have been responsible for the majority of cases leading to executions since 1976. Likewise, only two percent of the counties are responsible for the majority of today’s death row population and recent death sentences. “Eighty-five percent of the counties in the U.S. have not had a single case resulting in an execution in over 45 years,” says the author. “The relatively few prosecutors who drive the death penalty create enormous burdens for those outside their district. The rest of the country is paying a high tariff on behalf of the small percentage of the counties that are actually using the death penalty.” [Note: contains copyrighted material].