US Supreme Court Justice and liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg (also known as RBG), 87, died on September 18, opening a crucial vacancy on the high court expected to set off a pitched political battle at the peak of the presidential campaign.
Ginsburg became only the second woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice, when she was appointed to the court in 1993 by president Bill Clinton.
She anchored its liberal faction, whittled to four by two appointments since 2017 from US President Donald Trump. The number of justices of the Supreme Court of the Unites States is nine; each justice has lifetime tenure.
Photo: EPA-EFE 照片：歐新社
Over the past decade, the Supreme Court has made several sweeping rulings on social equality issues in 5-4 votes, including its landmark decision approving gay marriage in 2015. Last term, the court held in a 6-3 decision that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes unlawful sex discrimination in the workplace.
Coming just over a month before the Nov. 3 US presidential election in which Trump lags his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the polls, the vacancy offers the Republican president a chance to solidly lock in a conservative majority at the court for decades to come.
That could lead to a court that would potentially reverse abortion rights, strengthen the powers of business, and water down rights provided to minorities and the LGBTQ community over the past three decades.
Over the years Ginsburg has become a legend. Her personal and legal struggles for equal rights are featured in the documentary RBG and biographical movie On the Basis of Sex, which have also cemented Ginsburg’s unlikely status as a pop culture hero.
(AFP with staff writer)
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