Fact Check: Donald Trump's untruths on court pick, Joe Biden's flubs

President Donald Trump. Photo: AP/PTI

President Donald Trump and his Senate allies are misrepresenting the facts about Supreme Court nominations as he prepares to push ahead with a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Told about Ginsburg's dying wish to have the presidential winner in November pick her replacement, Trump asserted that Democrats fabricated the claim and insisted it was his constitutional imperative to name nine justices to the Supreme Court. Both claims are groundless.

In fact, a veteran Supreme Court journalist reported and verified Ginsburg's statement, while nothing in the Constitution requires that there be nine justices. Senate Republicans in 2016 had no qualms leaving the seat unfilled for 14 months, saying voters should first decide the president, who picks the court nominee.

Trump and Republican senators also falsely asserted that an eight-member court would leave the country in political limbo if there is an election dispute and incorrectly suggested that the Democratic Party has been hatching a plan to expand the high court for months.

His Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, meanwhile, wrongly claimed that a nomination can wait in part because there is no Supreme Court session before the November election. The court term begins on October 5.

A look at fact and fiction as Trump prepares to announce his Supreme Court pick later this week: GINSBURG

TRUMP, on Ginsburg's request that her replacement be chosen by the next president: I don't know that she said that, or if that was written out by Adam Schiff, and Schumer and Pelosi. That came out of the wind. It sounds so beautiful, but that sounds like a Schumer deal, or maybe Pelosi or Shifty Schiff. interview Monday with Fox & Friends.

THE FACTS: He's making a baseless assertion that congressional Democrats invented Ginsburg's statement, which Trump is ignoring by moving forward with plans to announce a nominee.

In the days before her death, Ginsburg told her granddaughter Clara Spera that my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed, according to NPR's Nina Totenberg, a longtime veteran Supreme Court reporter.

Totenberg, who is close to the Ginsburg family, reaffirmed her reporting this week. She told MSNBC on Monday that others in the room at the time also heard Ginsburg make the statement, including her doctor. I checked because I'm a reporter, Totenberg said.

There is certainly no evidence that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Adam Schiff or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer manufactured Ginsburg's request, as Trump asserts. Mr. President, this is low. Even for you, Schiff tweeted Monday. Trump says he'll announce his nominee on Saturday.


TRUMP, on why he's moving forward with a nomination so close to the Nov. 3 election: I have a constitutional obligation to put in nine judges justices. remarks Tuesday to reporters.

THE FACTS: To be clear, there is no constitutional requirement to have nine justices on the Supreme Court.

The Constitution, in fact, specifies no size for the Supreme Court, and Congress has the power to change its size.

Over its history, the high court has varied in size from five to 10 justices, depending on the number of judicial circuits in the U.S., according to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and former deputy director of the Federal Judicial Center.

He explained that a major duty of the justices until the late 19th century was to try cases in the old circuit courts. Congress decided on nine circuits in the late 1860s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt pushed to expand the high court in the 1930s in a bid to gain broader judicial support for his New Deal policies, but that effort failed.

BIDEN, arguing that a Supreme Court nomination should be decided by the next president so voters can have their voice heard in who serves on the court: There's no court session between now and the end of this election. remarks Sunday in Philadelphia.

THE FACTS: False. A new Supreme Court session begins Oct. 5, nearly one month before the election on Nov. 3. The justices are set to hear oral arguments in several cases during that time.

TRUMP: We need nine justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they're sending, it's a scam; it's a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else. ... So doing it before the election would be a very good thing because you're going to probably see it. remarks Tuesday to reporters.

THE FACTS: There's nothing fraudulent about mail-in ballots, and Trump's repeated false assertions certainly don't provide a valid justification to speed up a judicial nomination.

First of all, there is no such thing as an unsolicited ballot. Five states routinely send ballots to all registered voters so they can choose to vote through the mail or in person. Four other states and the District of Columbia will be adopting that system in November, as will almost every county in Montana. Election officials note that, by registering to vote, people are effectively requesting a ballot, so it makes no sense to call the materials sent to them unsolicited. More broadly speaking, voter fraud has proved exceedingly rare.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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