Voters Think Justice Department Motivated Mostly by Politics

Rasmussen Reports, August 28, 2014

Most voters have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S. Department of Justice and think it is more interested in politics than in serving justice. Voters are also strongly opposed to more federal control over their local police.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of the Justice Department, while 53% view it unfavorably. This includes only nine percent (9%) with a Very Favorable view and 26% with a Very Unfavorable one. {snip}

Just 35% think the Justice Department is more concerned with making sure justice is done when it decides to investigate a local crime independent of local police. But 54% think instead that the Justice Department is more concerned with politics when it makes those decisions. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided.

The Justice Department is currently investigating a white policeman’s shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus are now urging the Obama administration to appoint a federal “police czar” to oversee local law enforcement and prevent future incidents like this. But only 20% of voters favor federal control over local police departments. An overwhelming majority (74%) believes police departments should continue to be controlled by local authorities.

This distrust of the feds carries over into views of a planned new federal database to track “misinformation” and hate speech on the social media site Twitter. Thirty-five percent (35%) believe the federal government will use the database to go after real criminals, but 53% believe it will be used to monitor law-abiding citizens instead. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

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Consistent with other surveying of the Ferguson incident and law enforcement, there are sharp racial divides when it comes to federal investigations and overseeing local police. Black voters (64%) are twice as likely as whites (32%) and other minority voters (33%) to think that the Justice Department is more interested in making sure justice is done when it investigates local crimes. Fifty-six percent (56%) of whites and 57% of other minority voters think Justice is motivated mainly by politics.

Sixty percent (60%) of blacks favor federal control of local police departments, compared to just 14% of whites and 20% of other minority voters.

While the investigation continues, most black Americans (57%) are already convinced that the Ferguson police officer should be found guilty of murder, a view shared by just 17% of whites and 24% of other minority adults.

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Just 24% of all voters have a favorable opinion of Attorney General Eric Holder, while 43% view him unfavorably.

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Forty-six percent (46%) think the U.S. justice system is fair to black and Hispanic Americans, but 36% disagree. However, 80% of black voters think the system is unfair to minorities.

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