Chicago: Few changes in the US Supreme Court have provoked the widespread consternation of the American public, specially women, as the recent exit of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
After his retirement, announced in a brief and 'gracious' letter to President Donald Trump was made public, it came to be known that the White House had ever so gently nudged Kennedy to retire, giving Trump the opportunity to choose the second Supreme Court judge since taking office.
There is trepidation that President Donald Trump has a free hand to fulfill his campaign promise of filling the Supreme Court with 'conservative judges'.
With the appointment of another conservative judge, the 1973 verdict in Roe vs Wade, which legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, could well be overturned. Also on the judicial chopping block could be restrictions on the rights of minorities, gays and labour unions.
With Trump's appointment last year of Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court conservatives on the bench outflank the liberals 5-4. Another right leaning judge could change the character of the US Supreme Court for decades to come. It is a legacy which Trump, and the Republicans, have salivated over since the 2016 election campaign.
The appointment of Gorsuch, and the coming one to replace Kennedy, are projected by the administration as necessary to preserve the legacy of the icon of judicial conservatism - the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
But Scalia's pronouncements have frequently betrayed a jurist who was not the rabid conservative Republicans would have us believe. Indeed, many of his public pronouncements show him guilty of letting reason and rationale trump conservatism, a cardinal sin in the Trumpian lexicon.
Scalia was a 'textualist' - who called those who interpreted the US Constitution a 'living' or 'evolving' document 'idiotic'.