A Republican US Senate candidate linked to the extremist QAnon movement has drawn flak for posting messages accusing Ruth Bader Ginsburg of upholding abortion rights to limit the growth of black and brown Americans.
Lauren Witzke, who won last week’s primary to contest the Democratic-held seat in Delaware, also wrote on Twitter that her Democratic opponent Chris Coons, who supports abortion rights, was a “Christian-hating baby killer”.
“I’m coming for your seat, satanist," she said.
Ms Witzke began her volley of anti-Ginsburg messages on Facebook soon after the beloved judge’s death was announced on Friday night. In one message, she accused Justice Ginsburg of supporting abortion to curb the growth of non-white populations in the US.
"Ruth Bader Ginsberg's (sic) obsession with abortion overtly singled out blacks and minorities for extermination,” she wrote.
"Her own words from the 1970s tell us she didn't want too many blacks or poor folks procreating. Tens of millions of Black and Brown babies never got a chance at life because of Ruth Bader Ginsberg (sic).
"If elected, I pledge I will only ever vote to confirm a pro life justice to the Supreme Court."
Alongside the text was an image of three black children dancing.
Conservatives pounced on Justice Ginsburg’s remarks from a 2009 interview with The New York Times, in which she pointed to public opinion about overpopulation at the time influencing the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade.
Right-wing figures miscast her remarks to accuse her of supporting eugenics. In a follow-up interview, she also said her remarks were “vastly misinterpreted.”
As an attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg had filed a federal lawsuit in 1973 on behalf of a black woman who had been forcibly sterilized in 1965 as part a North Carolina eugenics programme for mentally ill patients.
The death of Justice Ginsburg has invoked a crisis among reproductive rights advocates fearing that Donald Trump could seat a conservative replacement, tipping the high court’s balance to a conservative majority, and begin to undo protections from Roe v Wade that guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion without excessive government intervention.
Ms Witzke has a slim chance of actually defeating the incumbent Democrat. Senator Coons won more than 55 percent of the vote in his previous election in 2014.
He defeated his 2020 primary challenger by more than 54,000 votes, a greater margin of victory than the total of all ballots cast in the Republican primary.
Ms Witzke initially deleted the post after furor from critics as well as outrage from members of her own party, then re-uploaded the text with an additional message: “This post was removed temporarily because of many repeated threats and attempts to dox me and my family.”
She later posted a message stating she was “taking back full control” of her Facebook page “to ensure that our message comes across as intended”.
However, since then, she has repeated her criticisms both of Justice Ginsburg, Mr Coons and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden – and has posted other images to underscore her opposition to abortion rights.
One post combines a picture of a newborn with another of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
“This baby is 5 minutes old,” it reads. “They both voted and agreed that it’s ok to kill this child 6 minutes earlier. And even if the child survived the abortion, they also voted to kill it.”
Among Ms Witzke’s other posts upon the death of Ms Ginsburg were a message railing against gender identity and another claiming the judge had “spearheaded the total destruction of Western Civilisation”.
.@ChrisCoonsforDE is going to do everything in his power to STOP the confirmation of our new PRO-LIFE SCOTUS.— Lauren Witzke for U.S. Senate (@LaurenWitzkeDE) September 21, 2020
When I called @ChrisCoons a “Christian-hating baby killer” — I was 100% correct.
I’m coming for your seat, Satanist.
The seat for which Ms Witzke is standing was held by the Democratic presidential candiate until he assumed the vice presidency in 2009.
In less than a week since winning the primary, she has drawn national attention both for her outspoken hard-right conservatism and for her openness to conspiracy theories.
She has worn QAnon t-shirts in public and deployed its hashtags on Twitter, once called herself a “flat-earther”, and has called the infamous and roundly debunked 9/11 conspiracy theory documentary Loose Change “a great awakening moment”.
While she has downplayed her relationship to QAnon, her campaign has used language reminiscent of the movement, in particular repeatedly referring to Mr Coons as a “globalist”.
She has also repeatedly interacted with white nationalist social media accounts online, including since winning the nomination last week. On Friday, she offered thanks for a fundraising callout to an account she follows called Nationalist Shill, which has repeatedly tweeted messages extolling white ethnic superiority and calling for violence against black and brown people.