Kirsten Gillibrand pledges Roe v. Wade litmus test for judicial nominations

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. pledged that if she wins the 2020 presidential election, she'll counter President Trump's judicial agenda by only nominating judges who'll commit to upholding the landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade.

"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," she said on Tuesday.

Gillibrand blasted the Trump administration for "stacking the Supreme Court with anti-choice extremists," indicating that she considered her pledge unusual but necessary, given Republicans' actions.

"I realize that traditionally, presidents and presidential candidates haven’t drawn lines in the sand on judicial appointments," she said.

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Gillibrand's comments came after a long battle over Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation, which she suggested was illegitimate. Many others also held that process up as an example of both parties politicizing the Supreme Court confirmations.

"That tradition ended when [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell, [R-Ky.,] 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," she said.

During Kavanaugh's confirmation, pro-choice groups warned that he would overturn Roe v. Wade based on comments Trump made during his 2016 campaign. Trump, during the campaign, indicated that he would favor justices who opposed Roe and predicted that it would be overturned under his presidency.

Trump received praise from pro-life leaders and organizations after he enacted policies weakening abortion access.

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But Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, pushed back and, at the end of April, told states to defy his rule limiting Title X family planning grants to clinics that didn't refer patients for abortions.

A judge in Washington later blocked that rule.

Accusing Republicans of trying to overturn Roe, Gillibrand also decried how they "have been aggressively chipping away at access to reproductive health care in states across the country."

Pro-choice advocates like Gillibrand have denounced multiple state-level efforts to restrict abortion access. Those policies — which included "heartbeat" legislation, abortion clinic regulations and bans on second-trimester abortions — have also faced a slew of legal challenges and might function as test cases for a more conservative Supreme Court.

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Abortion could be a prominent issue in the 2020 election as well, since Democrats received criticism — from Trump and others — for taking what some considered to be extreme positions on late-term abortion.

Gillibrand, however, has consistently lagged in polling among 2020 Dem prospects. According to Real Clear Politics' average, Gillibrand only received 0.5 percent in polling for the Democratic nomination.