Justice Ginsburg Not Resigning

Q: Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg resigning from the Supreme Court?

A: No. That claim was made in a fake news article based on a satirical story that said Ginsburg would resign if Donald Trump was elected president.

FULL QUESTION

Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg resigning?

FULL ANSWER

Several readers have asked us if Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has threatened to resign or is resigning because of Donald Trump’s victory. Neither is true.

In an interview last year with the New York Times, Ginsburg joked that she might move out of the country if Trump won. But the Times, which interviewed the justice in her chambers on July 8, 2016, noted that Ginsburg was “smiling ruefully” when she made the remark.

New York Times, July 10, 2016: “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

It reminded her of something her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, a prominent tax lawyer who died in 2010, would have said.

“‘Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand,’” Justice Ginsburg said, smiling ruefully.

The justice made similar remarks — without the joke about moving — in an interview a day earlier, July 7, 2016, with the Associated Press. In that interview, she said: “I don’t want to think about that possibility, but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs.”

The AP also wrote that Ginsburg “didn’t sound as though she is preparing to step down soon and shows no signs of slowing down.”

Ginsburg’s anti-Trump remarks were picked up and embellished upon by TheRightists.com, a “HYBRID site of news and satire.” The website’s “about us” page says, “Part of our stories already happens [sic], part, not yet. NOT all of our stories are true!”

In this case, TheRightists.com took part of a Huffington Post article about Ginsburg’s comments to the AP, and then added several made-up quotes to it.

Here is how the Huffington Post started its story:

Huffington Post, July 8, 2016: The Supreme Court is in recess for the summer, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took some time to reflect on its future composition, which will chiefly depend on who is elected president in November.

Asked on Thursday about the prospect of Donald Trump being handed the job of selecting the next crop of justices, she seemed uneasy at the thought.

“I don’t want to think about that possibility, but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs,” she told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview that also touched on the loss of her dear friend Antonin Scalia and some of the court’s biggest rulings in the term that ended in late June.

That was all accurately reprinted by TheRightists.com.

But in its version — which carried the headline, “Ruth Ginsburg Threatens To ‘Resign From SCOTUS’ If Trump Is Elected President” — TheRightists.com also added that Ginsburg was contemplating retirement, even though the AP story said that she showed no signs of slowing down or stepping down. They also spelled her name incorrectly in this section.

TheRightists.com, July 8, 2016: After opening fire at the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Ginsberg turned to her own plans should Donald Trump actually become the new President of the United States. “There’s no need to beat around the bush, so I’m just going to go ahead and say it – I will resign my position as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States if that happens. I cannot imagine performing my duties under the constant pressure of waking up in the morning and having to go to work knowing that every ruling we as an institution make will be viewed through the prism of a Trump presidency. I can tolerate this charade of a presidential campaign, but I could not live with him as president,” she said.

After Trump won the election, USAPOLITICS24HRS and USA News Today recycled TheRightists.com satirical story about Ginsberg nearly word for word.

The USAPOLITICS24HRS story, which was posted Dec. 23, 2016, and the USA News Today story, which was posted Jan. 2, carried the same headline: “CONFIRMED! Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is resigning from the post of Associated Justice of the Supreme Court.” This is nonsense.

Both websites re-posted the entire satirical story from TheRightists.com, adding only a sentence or two at the top. USA News Today, for example, begins its story with the sentence, “If this is true it will mean an opening for another Conservative Justice to be appointed by President Trump.” (That’s a red flag. Ask yourself: Why would a “confirmed” story start with “if this is true”?)

Both websites also included this sentence, which originally appeared in the Huffington Post article, without even bothering to change the time references: “The Supreme Court is in recess for the summer, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took some time to reflect on its future composition, which will chiefly depend on who is elected president in November.” It’s now winter, the Supreme Court is in session and the election was over two months ago. Another huge red flag.

Other red flags that these stories on USAPOLITICS24HRS and USA News Today are fake: They carry no bylines and include no sources. The websites also don’t provide an “about us” page, which typically provides information about a news organization’s mission, physical location, publisher and staff members.

The “contact us” page for USAPOLITICS24HRS lists its name as “A Great Company Name,” its address as “123 Main Street, Warwick, RI 02889,” and its phone number as “718.555.0062” — the same name, address and phone number given for multiple other websites. USA News Today has no address or phone number on its contact page.

Ginsburg is 83 years old and she may retire during Trump’s presidency. But she has yet to indicate that she will do so, despite what you may have read on Facebook.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to help identify and label viral fake news stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

Usanewstoday.org. “Confirmed! Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Resigning from the post of associate justice of the Supreme Court.” 2 Jan 2017.

Liptak, Adam. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, No Fan of Donald Trump, Critiques Latest Term.” New York Times. 10 Jul 2016.

Sherman, Mark. “AP interview: Ginsburg doesn’t want to envision a Trump win.” Associated Press. 9 Jul 2016.

Farlas, Christian. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says Supreme Court ‘Up For Grabs’ If Donald Trump Is President.” Huffington Post. 8 July 2016.

Eli The. “Ruth Ginsburg Threatens To “Resign From SCOTUS” If Trump Is Elected President.” TheRightists.com. 8 Jul 2016.

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