The claim: A meme suggests RBG said her Supreme Court seat should have been vacated a year ago because of health issues
In the wake of the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a seat on the country’s highest court is open, which has led to a national debate over whether it should be filled prior to Election Day on Nov. 3.
Democrats and some Republicans have said they are opposed to filling the seat within weeks of Election Day, but both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump said they intend to move forward with the confirmation process — with a nomination coming possibly as soon as this weekend.
A meme posted Sept. 20 on Instagram falsely suggests that Ginsburg might have been on board with the idea of filling her seat during Trump’s presidency.
“My seat should have been vacant a year ago when I was plagued with several health issues. #FillTheSeat,” the meme’s text, overlaid on a picture of Ginsburg, reads.
The user who posted the meme did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment and clarification.
Ginsburg expected to serve at least a few more years on the high court
It’s true that toward the end of 2018, Ginsburg was recovering from multiple ailments, including rib fractures caused by a fall and her third bout of cancer. She underwent a procedure to remove two nodules in the lower lobe of her left lung after two cancerous growths were discovered while treating the fractured ribs. Post-surgery, there was no evidence the disease remained there or anywhere else in Ginsburg’s body.
In the summer of 2019, Ginsburg had a fourth bout of the disease, that time a tumor on her pancreas. The Supreme Court said then that her tumor was "treated definitively" and that, again, there was no evidence of the disease elsewhere.
A 'remarkable fight': RBG battled five bouts of cancer over two decades
But Ginsburg had no plans to leave her seat.
In 2013, Ginsburg told USA TODAY that she planned to stay on the court as long as she could.
“As long as I can do the job full-steam, I would like to stay here,” she said. “I have to take it year by year at my age, and who knows what could happen next year? Right now, I know I’m OK.”
Just six months before her 2018 fall, Ginsburg indicated she expected to stay on the court for at least another half-decade.
"I'm now 85," Ginsburg said in 2018, according to CNN. "My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so I think I have about at least five more years."
She added that she was opposed to imposing term limits on Supreme Court justices, because, in order to do so, the Constitution would have to be amended.
"Article 3 says ... we hold our offices during good behavior,” Ginsburg said. "And most judges are very well behaved."
In 2019, she defended her decision to stay on the Supreme Court, despite some suggesting she should have stepped down during President Barack Obama's second term.
"When that suggestion is made, I ask the question: Who do you think that the President could nominate that could get through the Republican Senate? Who you would prefer on the court (rather) than me?” she said, CNBC reported.
She also hired law clerks through 2020, according to TIME.
Ginsburg made clear, right up until her death, that she did not want to be replaced until after the election.
"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg said in a statement dictated to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, according to NPR.
She ultimately died from complications of cancer — her fifth bout with the disease — Sept. 18.
Our rating: False
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said on multiple occasions that she intended to keep her seat on the Supreme Court as long as she could and hopefully until she reached age 90. She never said her seat should have been filled last year. And her final wish was that her seat would not be filled until after the election. We rate this claim FALSE, because it was not supported by our research.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, Sept. 21, Donald Trump: I'll probably announce Supreme Court pick on Friday or Saturday
USA TODAY, Dec. 21, 2018, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has malignant growths removed from lung, no signs of cancer remain
CNN, Aug. 21, 2018, Ginsburg suggests she has at least five more years on the Supreme Court
NPR, Sept. 18, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87
USA TODAY, Sept. 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies, setting up nomination fight
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Ruth Bader Ginsburg intended to stay on Supreme Court