“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” The words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman ever to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.

In the wake of her death on the 18th September, mourners have gathered around memorials and murals to honour one who is widely heralded as a heroine of civil rights, particularly gender equality.

Just as many could not understand their sense of personal grief after the death of actor Chadwick Boseman in August, women across the United States have described feeling as if they have lost someone they knew intimately.

Many saw her as the securer of their freedoms and her passing has brought not only grief but apprehension about who her replacement will be.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the Notorious RBG as she is affectionately called, was a trailblazer in many ways.

From being the first female professor at Columbia University to earn tenure to the different jabots she would wear to jazz up her robes, one for when she was in the majority and another for when she delivered her famous dissents, she was not afraid to stand out.

A dissent, the statement given by a judge explaining why they disagree with the majority decision, could be seen as an admission of defeat. But Ginsburg’s dissents, with their eloquent but fiery adamance, were not to be dismissed lightly.

She said, “dissent speaks to a future age” and much of her disagreement became future court decisions and legislation. Now her seat on the Supreme Court, draped with black in memorial, lies vacant.

The judicial branch of government is supposed to be independent of both the executive and legislative branches, that is the President and Congress, but the replacement of Supreme Court judges is always intensely politicised, even without a presidential race.

There is now potential for a 6-3 right-wing majority on the court, which would not only bolster support for Mr. Trump in the run up to the election but would open doors to sweeping changes on contentious topics like abortion and gun laws.

We may take for granted that Mr. Trump has every right to nominate a new judge since he is the sitting President, but this is not the first time a vacancy has opened up just before an election.

After Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace him. However, the Senate vote, which determines whether a judge is appointed, was blocked by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said the appointment should take place after the 2016.

This was an unprecedented but successful move for the Republicans and the Democrats were hoping that they would keep their own rules this time around.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Trump has decided to go ahead with the nomination. With a 54-47 Republican majority in the Senate, there is not much the Democrats can do about this.

So, what can we expect from a 6-3 majority? There are several issues the Republicans will want to push through the courts, starting with repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on the matter a week after the elections. Abortion laws may also be hitting the headlines again soon as Mr Trump’s most likely candidate, Amy Coney Barrett, personally sees it as immoral.

RBG’s replacement will almost certainly be a woman, fulfilling this article’s opening quote, but she will definitely differ in many respects from her predecessor.

Photo by Jackie Boylhart on Unsplash

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