Gillibrand sets litmus test: I will only nominate judges who back Roe v. Wade

Gillibrand sets litmus test: I will only nominate judges who back Roe v. Wade
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Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand2020 Democrats join striking McDonald's workers Fox News contributor Campos-Duffy compares abortion to slavery 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday set a litmus test for judicial nominees under her would-be presidential administration, declaring that, if elected, she would only nominate judges who vow to uphold Roe v. Wade.

In a post on Medium, the 2020 Democratic candidate hammered President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE for tapping what she described as “anti-choice extremists,” like Supreme Court Justices Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE and Neil Gorsuch, to federal courts.

Gillibrand argued that with those nominations, Trump has empowered Republican lawmakers to pursue restrictive anti-abortion measures that threaten the protections offered by the landmark 1973 abortion rights case.
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“So today, I’m announcing that 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.

Most Democrats have long demanded that the courts uphold the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which held that a woman’s right to have an abortion is protected under the Constitution.

But candidates and presidents have largely refrained in the past from setting such litmus tests for would-be judicial nominees out of concern that doing so would raise questions about the impartiality of the courts.

Gillibrand acknowledged that it is unusual for presidential candidates to stake out such firm positions on judicial nominations, especially so early in their campaigns.

But she argued that Republicans, namely Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-Ky.) had shattered such norms, first by denying former Supreme Court nominee Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian Garland2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Merrick Garland, denied Supreme Court spot, on court set to consider Trump subpoena appeal  Warren calls for Congress to pass federal laws protecting Roe v. Wade MORE a confirmation hearing in the Senate, and later by confirming Kavanaugh to the high court despite allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

In weighing in on potential judicial nominations, Gillibrand is hoping to set herself apart from the rest of the Democratic primary field, which now includes more than 20 candidates. While other candidates have sought to stake out policy positions early on in a bid to define some of the issues that will drive the 2020 primary contest, the New York senator is the first to lay out her plans for judicial nominations.

“Women deserve a president who understands the real stakes of this fight for the judiciary. President Trump is appointing circuit court judges at a record pace, not to mention making two Supreme Court appointments,” Gillibrand wrote.

“The impact of those appointments on Americans  —  and on reproductive rights in this country  —  will extend far beyond the end of his presidency. We have to fight back.”