This past Thursday (Feb 27), I was listening to Here and Now on WBUR in Boston. The topic was presidential power. George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, despite agreeing with President Obama on many issues, took exception to the President's intent to circumvent Congress via executive action. Here's a brief bit of the exchange between Turley and host Jeremy Hobson (emphasis added).

Quote Originally Posted by WBUR
HOBSON: But the White House would say, and they have said, that as you say, Congress is not acting right now. They're not doing very much at all. And the president says it's his responsibility to act. And so he's doing what he can through his executive authority.

TURLEY: Well, I'm afraid I'm not convinced by that argument, quite frankly. It's not enough to say that he wouldn't do this if you simply did what he wanted you to do. The framers didn't guarantee that we would reach compromise. There's a very good reason why we're having difficulty today. This country is deeply divided.

And as representatives of the people, you find that Congress is divided. ...
On at least one point, I'm not sure that I agree with Turley. I think that Congress is dramatically more divided than the country, at least on many controversial issues.

A few examples where support for such an issue is at super-majority levels:


  • 71% of Americans support an increased minimum wage (Gallup).

  • 75% of Americans support the right of private gun ownership (Gallup).

  • 77% of Americans support abortion rights, either as-is or with stricter limits. In both cases, respondents opposed an all-out ban (CBS).

  • 80% of Americans want Congressional approval of Presidential action on Syria (NBC).

  • 90% of Americans support gun purchase background checks (Washington Post).

  • 93% of Americans support labeling of genetically engineered food (New York Times).


Interestingly enough, in 1995, 80% of Americans favored the death penalty. As recently as 2007, at 69%, it still met the super-majority threshold. Today, though, support has dropped to 60% (Gallup).

Similarly, from 2006-2008, roughly 65% of Americans opposed the Iraq war, just missing the super-majority threshold.