US President Donald Trump has warned Supreme Court justices against ruling favour of Democratic candidate Joe Biden if next week's election is disputed.
In a tweet in the small hours of Friday morning, Trump warned the nine sitting justices - including the newly-appointed Amy Coney Barrett - that Biden would increase the size of the bench and pack the court with "radical left" appointees if he becomes president.
He also claimed Biden would end the life tenure of Supreme Court justices and introduce rotating membership.
Biden has repeatedly refused to rule out packing the court, even telling one journalist in Nevada that voters "don't deserve" to know his stance.
Whoever wins this year's election, it looks likely that the result will not be known for up to a fortnight after the November 3 polling day.
Tens millions of votes are set to be cast by post in this election amid the coronavirus pandemic, and there have been reports of ballots sent to the wrong addresses in several states and even being destroyed by partisan mailmen. A dispute could arise where one candidate wins based on votes cast at polling stations, but loses once mail-in ballots - which can be counted even if they arrive after November 3 - are counted.
Coney Barrett's appointment was approved by the Republican-majority Senate on Monday, despite an bid by enraged Democrats to render the upper house inquorate by boycotting the vote. Conservatives now hold a 6-3 majority over liberals on the powerful court, which has been used over the years to legislate on abortion rights and same sex marriage rather than rule solely on constitutional matters.
Later on Friday morning Trump again tweeted out the Supreme Court issue among other planks of of his re-election platform.