A poll commissioned by a public relations consultant had some dreary results for the nation as it celebrates its birthday today.
According to the nationwide survey, only 28 percent of Americans believe that rich and poor have equal access to the federal courts. When the responses were broken down by race, only 20 percent of African Americans said rich and poor have equal access to the federal courts, with 28 percent of white Americans and 27 percent of Hispanic Americans agreeing.
Of those polled, 49 percent said federal judges are "at least occasionally biased" against the poor, and 34 percent said judges are "often" biased against the poor. Also, 47 percent said they believe judges are appointed because they helped raised funds for political parties or candidates.
The telephone survey of 1,014 adults was conducted in March by Opinion Research Corp. International of Princeton, N.J. It was commissioned by Jeff Barge of Lucky Star Public Relations, who said he had a personal--not a client--interest in the issue.
After learning the results of the survey, Barge commissioned a second one, involving 1,015 adults interviewed in April. These respondents showed greater confidence in other constitutional rights.
In this poll, 87 percent said they believe "rich and poor people have equal access to the right to practice the religion of their choice"; 83 percent said rich and poor "have equal access to the right to vote"; and 64 percent said rich and poor "have equal access to the right to free speech."