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Law Day Survey: Lack of 'Civility' in U.S. Governance is Media's Fault

A new survey released in conjunction with the annual Law Day celebration indicates Americans see a startling lack of “civility” in the U.S. As such, the 2023 American Bar Association (ABA) Survey of Civic Literacy also found respondents participating in the survey pointed to the media as the chief culprit.

“The results: A majority agreed that civility is worse, that political compromise is good, but many are not willing to compromise on specific issues. Also, most U.S. residents think Americans don’t know much about how government works,” according to the ABA. The survey was released on Monday, May 1, and encompasses the thoughts of 1,000 respondents from around the U.S. It was conducted in March by DAPA Research at the behest of the ABA, and its margin of error is 3 percentage points.

“Law Day provides an opportunity to understand how law and the legal process protect our liberty, strive to achieve justice, and contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share,” reads information from the trade association. Traditionally, May 1 is set aside as a day to “celebrate the rule of law.” The 2023 iteration of the day comes with the theme of “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration.”

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"President Dwight D. Eisenhower commemorated the first #LawDay #OnThisDay 65 years ago. The holiday celebrates the importance of the rule of law to the United States. Learn more from @RodRosenstein and others:…. #SSChat #EdChat #GovChat #APGov #RuleofLaw"

PLP 2023.05.09The survey results show a substantial erosion in the perception of “civility” over the last decade. To that end, 85% of those asked said civility is worse now than it was 10 years earlier. For nearly 30% of those asked, social media was to blame, and another 24% pointed to the media in general while 19% hold public officials accountable for the results.

When pressed on who should be responsible for improving interpersonal relations, 34% of respondents said friends and family while 27% called on public officials to take the lead. Additionally, 11% said it is the responsibility of community leaders while 7% said they believe that burden should be placed upon teachers.

“Almost everyone said they want government leaders to work toward compromise and not hold their ground until they win,” reads the ABA analysis of the survey’s results. “More than 3 out of 4 (79%) said they support compromise. Only 13% support government leaders holding their ground.”

Interestingly, though, when it comes to certain areas of interest, the survey respondents indicated a proclivity for stubbornness. Per the ABA, 57% of those asked said they oppose compromising on the issue of voting rights and 45% said they oppose compromise on the issue of reproductive rights, the same rate as those who favor compromise. More respondents than not, though, support elected officials finding common ground on infrastructure, immigration reform, Social Security and gun rights.

From Twitter

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"Since 1958, every president of the United States has issued a #LawDay proclamation recognizing the importance of the rule of law in our country. Each year there is a theme set forth by the @ABAesq."

Additionally, 53% of those asked said the public is “not very informed about how government works,” and an additional 17% said they believe the general public is “not at all informed” about how the government functions.

As such, a majority of those asked were properly able to identify John Roberts as the chief judge in the U.S. However, 19% of those asked assumed that position to be held by Clarence Thomas.

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