During an interview with the New York Times in July 2016, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that she couldn’t imagine what the U.S. would be like with Donald Trump as president and joked about moving to New Zealand in the event that he won the upcoming election:
These days, [Ginsburg] is making no secret of what she thinks of a certain presidential candidate.
“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.
Embellished versions of Ginsburg’s remarks quickly followed. For instance, the web site The Rightists claimed that Ginsburg had “threatened to resign” from the Supreme Court and relocate to the Land of the Long White Cloud”:
That is why my family and I have decided that we will do best if we move out from the United States. We are going to New Zealand! AWAY FROM TRUMP!
“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. 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.
The Rightists is a “hybrid” web site that publishes a mixture of fact and fiction. In this case, the quote that originated with the New York Times interview was real, but Ginsburg’s threat to resign was made up out of the whole cloth.
The fake news from The Rightists was picked up by other disreputable web sites as the rumor gradually changed from Ginsburg’s threatening to resign in the event of a Trump victory, to Ginsburg’s announcing her resignation after the election, to her actually retiring and moving to New Zealand:
Although articles published by Success Street (and nearly identical versions can be found on other disreputable web sites such as Rumor Journal) claimed that Ginsburg had in fact resigned and moved to New Zealand, they offered no evidence to back up those reports. Instead, they based their articles on a fabricated quote that originated in a months-old piece of “satire.”
On 23 February 2017, more than two weeks after Success Street claimed that Ginsburg had resigned and moved to New Zealand, the Supreme Court Justice appeared on BBC’s “Newsnight” to talk about the future of the U.S. — with no mention that she would be a passive observer of those events from her retirement spot in New Zealand:
Liptak, Adam. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, No Fan of Donald Trump, Critiques Latest Term.”
The New York Times. 10 July 2016.
TheRightists.com. “Ruth Ginsburg Threatens to ‘Resign from SCOTUS’ If Trump Is Elected President.”
8 July 2016.