With just 45 days left until the US presidential election, the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being described as monumental.
Debate is raging over whether Justice’s Ginsburg dying wish, that she “not be replaced until a new president is installed”, should be honoured.
But US President Donald Trump is pressing ahead, saying the vacancy will be filled by a woman.
We take a look at the situation and potential candidates.
What’s Donald Trump’s next move?
The nomination presents an opportunity for the Republican President to expand the court’s conservative majority to 6-3.
And Trump is expected to announce his nominee within the next week.
During a campaign rally in North Carolina on Saturday, Trump confirmed the nominee would be a woman.
“I think it should be a woman because I actually like women much more than men,” he said.
If a woman is appointed, they will be the fifth to serve on the US Supreme Court bench.
Hours before the rally, Trump praised two conservative women, Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit, as possible contenders.
Trump promoted both judges to federal appeals courts during his presidential term.
The President said a decision on Justice Ginsburg’s replacement should be made “without delay”.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
Amy Coney Barrett, 48, is emerging as the frontrunner for the job.
If successful, the devout Roman Catholic and mother of seven children would be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court bench.
Before being appointed to her 7th Circuit position in 2017, she was a legal scholar at Notre Dame Law School in Indiana.
She is known for her conservative religious views and has stated “life begins at conception”, prompting abortion rights groups to predict that, if appointed, she will seek to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision that legalised abortion nationwide.
Who is Barbara Lagoa?
Barbara Lagoa, 52, is described as a seasoned judge from Florida.
She was the first Hispanic woman and the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court after spending a decade as a judge on an intermediate appeals court.
She was appointed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals less than a year ago.
After graduating from Columbia Law School, she practised both civil and criminal law before becoming a prosecutor.
If appointed to the US Supreme Court, the mother of three daughters would be the youngest of the judges.
Will it definitely be a woman?
It could still be a man.
Mr Trump has issued four lists of potential nominees, the most recent last week.
The New York Times lists several male judges as potential candidates for the role, including Amul Thapar, the first federal judge of South Asian descent, Raymond Kethledge who is considered “a strong adherent of a strict interpretation of the Constitution”, and Thomas M. Hardiman, who is known for his conservative rulings.
The newspaper states the newest addition to Trump’s list includes James Ho, who was born in Taiwan and currently sits on the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
What happens next?
Any nomination would require approval in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said the chamber will vote on any nominee Trump puts forward.
But not all Republicans agree this should happen.
Maine’s senator, Susan Collins, says the Senate should not vote on the nominee before the election.
“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the president who is elected on November 3rd,” Senator Collins wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are still seething over the Republican Senate’s refusal to act on a Supreme Court nominee from then-president Barack Obama in 2016.
Even if the Democrats win the White House and a Senate majority in the November election, Trump and Senator McConnell have time to nominate and take a vote before the new Congress is sworn in.
Senior congressional Democrats have raised the prospect of adding more justices next year if they win control of the White House and Senate at the election to counterbalance the court’s current conservative majority.