Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday night, September 18, at the age of 87. The justice—also known as RBG—was a fierce advocate for women’s rights and became a cultural and political icon as she reshaped U.S. legislation.
Ginsburg’s death is just one more reason why the upcoming presidential election will be more important than ever. Should President Trump be unable to push through his nominee before November 3, whoever is elected will decide who replaces RBG.
As it now stands, out of the seven remaining members of the U.S. Supreme Court, five have been appointed by Republican presidents and two by Democratic presidents. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, becoming the second woman to ever serve on the Supreme Court. RBG’s vacant seat means the liberals have lost a vote on the bench.
So, how does this even work? Here’s what you need to know.
How is a Supreme Court justice selected? According to the Supreme Court’s official website, “The President nominates someone for a vacancy on the Court and the Senate votes to confirm the nominee, which requires a simple majority.” (FYI, the Republicans currently have the majority in the Senate, though some have sworn to wait for the election to vote.)
In 2016 the GOP, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, refused to vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. That was eight months before the 2016 election. We are currently just 45 days away from the 2020 election on November 3.
What qualifications does the nominee need to meet? You may be surprised to learn that the Constitution “does not specify qualifications such as age, education, and profession.” All that to say, a judge does technically need to be a trained lawyer.
Why is this such a big deal? Since Supreme Court justices serve the court for life (or as long as they wish to), this may be one of the most important decisions in recent U.S. history. Depending on who fills RBG’s seat, the law in America could move significantly further right if a sixth GOP-appointed judge is selected for the court.
Last week Trump released a list of potential names he would choose from to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, which included Republican senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley. This could be a major blow to women’s rights, especially, as Tom Cotton has made it his mission to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Before her death, Ginsburg shared her “fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Originally Appeared on Glamour