The casket of Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose in front of the Supreme Court for public viewing in Washington, DC on September 23, 2020 (AFP / Saul Loeb)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not nominated or confirmed in a US federal election year

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Facebook posts shared thousands of times claim US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nominated and confirmed within 43 days of an election. This is false; Ginsburg was nominated, confirmed and sworn in during 1993, which was not a federal election year in the US.

“Irony Are You Aware Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was Nominated And Confirmed With In 43 Days Of An Election? #FillTheSeat” reads a September 21, 2020 Facebook post.

The post does not mention which type of election it refers to, but it comes during a political maelstrom over the late Ginsburg’s successor:  President Donald Trump wants a new justice confirmed before the November 3 presidential election, while Democrats -- seeking to unseat Trump -- want to wait until afterwards.

Screenshot of a Facebook post with a false claim taken on September 25, 2020

More examples of the claim are available on Facebook here, here and here.

Ginsburg, popularly known as RBG, died on September 18, 2020 after 27 years on the nation’s highest court. She was nominated by president Bill Clinton on June 14, 1993 and confirmed by the Senate 50 days later, on August 3, 1993.

Neither a midterm nor presidential election took place that year; elections for federal office take place in even-numbered years

Ginsburg’s death 46 days before the presidential election offers Republicans a chance to lock in a conservative majority for decades to come on a court where justices are appointed for life.

The decision could affect landmark rulings on abortion, health care, gun control and gay rights. The stakes are even higher in an election year, as the justices could have the final word if there is a contested result. The court ruled to stop a recount of votes in Florida in 2000, giving George W Bush the presidency.

While Democrats' options seem limited, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told party members on September 19 that if Republicans press ahead with Ginsburg’s replacement, then "nothing is off the table." 

"This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," Schumer said the day before, carefully echoing the words of Republican Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in the 2016 election year, when he blocked Barack Obama's pick Merrick Garland.

But Republicans appear to have the Senate votes needed to push through a Trump nominee.

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