The Washington Post did some fact-checking on the “little history lesson” vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris shared on Wednesday night in her attempt to sidestep around Mike Pence’s question about packing the Supreme Court.
While discussing the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Harris made the following argument: “I’m so glad we went through a little history lesson. Let’s do that a little more,” Harris told Pence. “In 1864 … Abraham Lincoln was up for reelection. And it was 27 days before the election. And a seat became open on the United States Supreme Court. Abraham Lincoln’s party was in charge not only of the White House, but the Senate. But Honest Abe said, ‘It’s not the right thing to do. The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president of the United States, and then that person will be able to select who will serve on the highest court of the land.”
According to a report from the Washington Post on Thursday, Harris was not accurate in her statement, and they attempted to set the record straight, stating, “Harris is correct that a seat became available 27 days before the election. And that Lincoln didn’t nominate anyone until after he won,” the Post wrote. “But there is no evidence he thought the seat should be filled by the winner of the election. In fact, he had other motives for the delay.
According to Lincoln historian Michael Burlingame, Lincoln told aides he was delaying the Supreme Court confirmation because he was “waiting to receive expressions of public opinion from the country.” To which the post noted “that didn’t mean he was waiting for ballots so much as the mail.”
The post went on to conclude, “So Harris is mistaken about Lincoln’s motivations in this regard.”
A mistake, confusion on details in the heat of the moment, or simply a altering a few details to fit a desired narrative. No matter what you want to call it, the Washington Post and Lincoln historians agree that the information wasn’t 100% accurate.