Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a presidential candidate, set a litmus test for judicial nominees Tuesday, saying she would only appoint judges who will uphold Roe v. Wade.
“As president, I will only nominate judges — including Supreme Court justices — who will commit to upholding Roe v. Wade as settled law and protect women’s reproductive rights,” Gillibrand wrote on Medium, the digital publishing platform.
“I realize that traditionally, presidents and presidential candidates haven’t drawn lines in the sand on judicial appointments,” Gillibrand added. “That tradition ended when Mitch McConnell obstructed the nomination process and stole a Supreme Court seat, when Donald Trump nominated dozens of ideologically extreme judges hand-picked by far-right think tanks, and when Republicans confirmed a Supreme Court justice who is credibly accused of sexual misconduct.”
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump similarly pledged to appoint judges who would overturn Roe and protect Second Amendment rights. He later qualified those remarks, saying he would select nominees in the mould of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Gillibrand’s opposition to the president’s judicial nominees has won plaudits from liberal advocacy groups. One such group, Demand Justice, featured Gillibrand and Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris, another 2020 hopeful, in a digital ad urging lawmakers to rebuff the president’s efforts to fill the courts with textualist and originalist judges. Demand Justice also gave Gillibrand high marks on a score card rating individual senators on opposition to Trump nominees.
The New York Democrat has also entertained proposals to expand the Supreme Court, saying she would not rule out adding seats to the bench were she elected president. A growing number of Democratic presidential aspirants are contemplating proposals to reform the Supreme Court.
Tuesday’s announcement closely keeps with Gillibrand’s campaign message, in which feminism and women’s issues have featured prominently.
Gillibrand has struggled to break out in the crowded Democratic presidential field — she raised a paltry $3 million in the first quarter of 2019 and is languishing near the bottom of the polls.
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