The claim: In 2016, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said senators refusing to vote on a nominee to the Supreme Court should ‘recognize that a president is elected for four years not three’
The death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sparked an immediate political battle over whether the Senate should vote on the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court prior to the upcoming presidential election.
The fight harkens back to 2016.
After Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died, Senate Republicans, who held the chamber’s majority, refused to advance the nomination of President Barack Obama’s pick, federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, citing the upcoming election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee did not hold hearings on Garland’s nomination.
Scalia died 269 days before the presidential election, while Ginsburg died a mere 46 days prior, per The Washington Post.
A post on Instagram claims that Ginsburg herself spoke out against the refusal to consider the Garland nomination.
“Senators refusing to vote on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court should recognize that a president is elected for four years not three,” the post reads, attributing the line to Ginsburg on Sept. 7, 2016, in the Washington Post.
The user behind the post did not respond to a request from USA TODAY for comment.
Fact check: Ruth Bader Ginsburg wanted gender-neutral language, not lower age of consent
Ginsburg made similar, not identical, statement about fight to confirm Merrick Garland
It’s true that Ginsburg made a similar statement to incoming law students at Georgetown University on Sept. 7, 2016.
But the post on Instagram misattributes the beginning of a story in The Washington Post to Ginsburg herself.
More: The unlikely friendship of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia
The story opens: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Wednesday that senators refusing to vote on President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court should recognize that a president is elected for four years not three.”
But that’s not the late justice’s actual quote.
In reality, she simply stated, “The president is elected for four years not three years, so the power he has in year three continues into year four.”
“Maybe members of the Senate will wake up and appreciate that that’s how it should be,” she added.
A ‘remarkable fight’: RBG battled five bouts of cancer over two decades
However, she acknowledged that the Senate could not be forced to act.
“If the Senate is not acting, what can be done about it?” she asked rhetorically. “Even if you could conceive of a testing lawsuit, what would the response be? ‘Well, you want us to vote, so we’ll vote no.'”
When it came to her own replacement, though, Ginsburg was clear about her wishes: She did not want Trump to choose her replacement.
A few days before she died, she told her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” per NPR.
Ginsburg’s last wish: ‘I will not be replaced until a new president is installed’
Our rating: Missing context
Based on our research, this claim is MISSING CONTEXT because it conflates the opening sentence of a story in the Washington Post article with an actual quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and, therefore, could be misleading. Her quote, about the confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland in 2016, was similar. But Ginsburg also recognized that the Senate had the power to act as it saw fit.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, Sept. 18, 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Second woman on Supreme Court had been nation’s leading litigator for women’s rights
USA TODAY, Sept. 18, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, setting up nomination fight
The Washington Post, Sept. 19, 2020, Is it too close to the election to confirm a Supreme Court nominee?
The Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2016, Ginsburg suggests Senate should act on Garland nomination, but says it cannot be forced to
NPR, Sept. 18, 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87
USA TODAY, March 16, 2016, Obama: Merrick Garland qualified to serve on Supreme Court immediately
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Ginsburg said president is ‘elected for four years’