By MARK PENN
Published July 9, 2010
Despite their support of checks and balances and desire for minimal changes in the Constitution, the American public favors a series of populist changes in our system of government, according to the results of a poll on the US Constitution prepared by Penn Schoen Berland for the Aspen Institute and released today at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Initiatives receiving public support include direct election of Supreme Court justices, elimination of the Electoral College, and the addition of amendments by national referenda.
The poll suggests that, while the public may be dissatisfied with recent administrations and the partisan political environment, they remain reasonably satisfied with the governmental framework set out in the Constitution. By 64 to 19 they endorse the system of checks and balances as necessary to prevent one branch from dominating the Government.
Freedom of speech was seen as far and away the single most important right guaranteed by the Constitution, and, as a corollary, only 28 percent believe the press has too much freedom. The poll covered well over 100 questions on the details of the constitutional system of government and was conducted with over 1000 Americans. The complete presentation is available below.