Fact Check

Hillary Clinton: Supreme Court Exists to 'Change and Shape the Law'

A quote purportedly from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton about the role of the Supreme Court is a hoax.

Published Oct 10, 2016

Image Via FLICKR
Hillary Clinton said that the Supreme Court's purpose was not about "checks and balances" but to "change and shape the law."

On 10 October 2016, an meme appeared featuring a photograph of Hillary Clinton accompanied by text of a purported quote from her during from the second presidential debate the night before:

clinton quote

"The Supreme Court is not about checks and balances, nor to interpret the law. It's there to change and shape the law."

The quote was not uttered by Clinton during the any presidential debate. It does not appear in the transcript of the event, nor can Clinton be heard speaking this phrase during the broadcast

It seems to have originated with a social media user named Rocky Raczkowski, who (according to his post) was not directly quoting Clinton, but was giving his interpretation of what he thought Clinton had said in response to a question about Supreme Court justices:

fake quote

Raczkowski's interpretation was later shared by Mike Hewitt, a politician and radio show host, who posted the message as if it were a direct quote from Clinton, while darkly hinting at a media so corrupt that they refused to cover the what she had really said:

mike hewitt

Of course, the reason that most media sources did not report on this quote is that it is not a quote, but a highly subjective (and inaccurate) interpretation of her words. Here's Clinton's actual response to a question about how she would select a Supreme Court justice, which is nothing like the questionable paraphrase offered by Raczkowski and shared by Hewitt:

QUESTION: Good evening. Perhaps
the most important aspect of this election is the Supreme Court justice. What would you prioritize as the most important aspect of selecting a Supreme Court justice?

RADDATZ: We begin with your two minutes, Secretary Clinton.

Thank you. Well, you’re right. This is one of the most important issues in this election. I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience, who have not just been in a big law firm and maybe clerked for a judge and then gotten on the bench, but, you know, maybe they tried some more cases, they actually understand what people are up against.

Because I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction. And so I would want to see the Supreme Court reverse Citizens United and get dark, unaccountable money out of our politics. Donald doesn’t agree with that.

I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem in many parts of our country, that we don’t always do everything we can to make it possible for people of color and older people and young people to be able to exercise their franchise. I want a Supreme Court that will stick with Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose, and I want a Supreme Court that will stick with marriage equality.

Now, Donald has put forth the names of some people that he would consider. And among the ones that he has suggested are people who would reverse Roe v. Wade and reverse marriage equality. I think that would be a terrible mistake and would take us backwards.

I want a Supreme Court that doesn’t always side with corporate interests. I want a Supreme Court that understands because you’re wealthy and you can give more money to something doesn’t mean you have any more rights or should have any more rights than anybody else.

So I have very clear views about what I want to see to kind of change the balance on the Supreme Court. And I regret deeply that the Senate has not done its job and they have not permitted a vote on the person that President Obama, a highly qualified person, they’ve not given him a vote to be able to be have the full complement of nine Supreme Court justices. I think that was a dereliction of duty.

I hope that they will see their way to doing it, but if I am so fortunate enough as to be president, I will immediately move to make sure that we fill that, we have nine justices that get to work on behalf of our people.


Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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