The political firestorm begins after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death

In her dying wish, she was not alone.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dictated to her granddaughter in her final days that her “most fervent wish” was that she would not be replaced until a new president was installed.

In doing so, she spoke for a part of America – the liberal part.

It was Justice Ginsburg's dying wish to not be replaced until a new president is in power
Image:It was Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish to not be replaced until a new president is in power

There are huge political implications to her passing, although this is not to say the US has not paused to consider the human loss and pay tribute to a career crammed with achievement.

Several hundred people gathered by candlelight outside the Supreme Court building in Washington DC and TV news schedules were cleared to remember a legal colossus, feminist icon and cult hero dubbed, affectionately, the Notorious RBG.

Justice Ginsburg was a prominent advocate for women’s rights and her career progress was punctuated by a series of victories over gender discrimination, inside and outside the courtroom.

She was only the second woman to be elevated to the Supreme Court, where she sat as a member of its liberal bloc.

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The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US and its nine lifetime-appointed justices are hugely influential in American life.

Each is nominated by the sitting president and their rulings can shape policy on everything, often on divisive issues such as abortion, execution and gay marriage.

US Supreme Court judge and women's rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

US Supreme Court judge and women’s rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a prominent women's rights advocate
Image:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a prominent women’s rights advocate

The politics of the Supreme Court appointments are significant with regard to the law of the land.

Justice Ginsburg was one of four liberal-minded judges outnumbered by five conservative appointees.

The political firestorm, already ignited within minutes of her death, surrounds the question of who will replace her, when will it be, and what that will do to the political balance of the Supreme Court.

Crowds gather outside the Supreme Court to pay tribute
Image:Crowds gather outside the Supreme Court to pay tribute

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said on Friday night that “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate”.

It sounds like he wants a hasty replacement and that has infuriated Democratic opponents who point out the same man led a Republican block on an Obama Supreme Court nomination in 2016 because it was made in the February before a November election.

Democrats say the same principles should apply – the man who wins on 3 November should make the decision on who replaces Justice Ginsburg.

Their fear is the alternative – that an attempt is made to push through a Trump appointee before polling day, or even in the “lame duck” period between polling day and 20 January when a new president is sworn in.

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A Donald Trump nominee, ushered through before the next term, would leave a hefty Trump legacy in the Supreme Court and in the country.

He might like that. Then again, his campaign strategists will see value in delay, given that their man remains behind in the polls.

If the Supreme Court pick throws a focus onto issues that work for him politically, it will distract from those issues that do not.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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