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On Supreme Court, Trump claims a popular mandate he didn't earn

Trump believes he has a popular mandate to move the Supreme Court even further to the right. That's demonstrably ridiculous.

It's not often that iconic figures from American public life issue dying wishes, but as Ruth Bader Ginsburg's health started failing, the U.S. Supreme Court justice thought it was necessary to make her wishes known.

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg told her granddaughter in the days before her death.

To the surprise of no one, Donald Trump made clear the day after the justice's passing that he intends to ignore Ginsburg's dying wish. The president justified his position in a Saturday tweet:

"We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices," Trump tweeted Saturday. "We have this obligation, without delay!"

It seems unlikely the president actually wrote this. Most of the words were capitalized properly, and there was only one exclamation point, suggesting this represents the view of White House staff, not Trump himself.

Regardless, some may be persuaded by the pitch's superficial appeal: Americans, who voted in the last presidential election when there was a pending high court vacancy, elected Trump, knowing he'd have the authority to choose Supreme Court justices. As the argument goes, the Republican is now merely exercising the power the American electorate wanted him to have.

Reality, however, tells a very different story. Indeed, this is precisely why the relevance of the popular vote lingers: while Trump won the electoral college four years ago, "the people" preferred his opponent, by a margin of nearly 3 million votes.

To suggest the Republican has a popular mandate to move the Supreme Court even further to the right is demonstrably ridiculous: if Americans wanted Trump to remake the high court, they would have voted for him.

What's more, as the New York Times noted over the weekend, two polls taken shortly before RBG's passing -- one national survey, and one polling three battleground states -- found voters preferring Joe Biden specifically on the issue of selecting Supreme Court justices. In fact, in both polls, Biden's lead on this issue was larger than his overall lead over Trump, suggesting even some Americans who don't intend to vote for Biden nevertheless trust him on this issue more than the incumbent president.

And while it's very early in the process, a Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted over the weekend and released late yesterday, found that 62% of Americans agreed that the Ginsburg vacancy should be filled by the winner of this year's presidential election. Unexpectedly, even half of Republican voters held this view.

Obviously, Americans' wishes in this area are not relevant to Republicans in the White House and the Senate, but Trump would have us believe "the people" want him and his party to proceed with the confirmation process. All of the evidence suggests that's backwards.