Senator Gillibrand Has a Plan to Block Trump's Nominee and Save Roe v. Wade

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says blocking the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh requires speaking to every one of her colleagues about the issues they care about.

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Jul 16 2018, 8:25pm

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand isn't one to head into battle without a plan.

And as reproductive rights advocates like her head into one of the biggest battles in decades—fighting to preserve Roe v. Wade—the New York Democratic senator has given some thought to practical strategies she can employ to block President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nomination.

"I think we have to talk to every senator," Gillibrand told Glamour. "You never know who will be the final person to stand up and do the right thing. And so if you're talking to all Republicans and all Democrats, your likelihood of finding enough to block him is greater."

The vote to confirm federal judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench comes down to a handful of senators known for their swing votes. That means Democrats are hoping to convince two Republican senators, Maine Senator Susan Collins and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, to cross party lines and oppose Kavanaugh's nomination. Though both Collins and Murkowski have identified themselves as pro-choice and voted against Trump nominees in the past, it's hardly a surefire guarantee they will vote no on Kavanaugh.

Still, the two may be much easier sells than their GOP colleagues in the Senate and the conservative Democrats who often vote with them, especially for those who have long awaited an end to abortion rights in the United States.

But Gillibrand isn't giving up on anyone—she says she'll try her best to show her anti-abortion colleagues that it's in their best interest to block Kavanaugh's confirmation, too.

"If they're pro-life, I would talk to them about some of the other concerns they have," Gillibrand said. "He has a very conservative, severe record on lots of things, like opposing net neutrality, supporting corporations over people, opposing the [Consumer Financial Protection Board], opposing criminal investigations into the president…. And frankly the issue of health care should appeal to everyone."

Senate Democrats are scrambling to unite around a message with broad appeal that will convince their counterparts across the aisle that supporting Kavanaugh would be an unpopular choice. So far, as Gillibrand alludes, Senate leadership has decided focusing on the threat Kavanaugh poses to the Affordable Care Act could be their best bet.

"Democrats believe the No. 1 issue in America is health care, and the ability of people to get good health care at prices they can afford," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement last week.

But Gillibrand wants to make sure a holistic focus on Kavanaugh's history as federal judge doesn't blot out his anti-choice record, or diminish what's at stake for women.

"It could happen overnight," Gillibrand said of the possibility of Kavanaugh voting to repeal Roe v. Wade, if confirmed. "I think [he’ll take] any opportunity to vote against Roe in any form, whether it's narrowing it or overturning it.

"I'm going to speak out as loudly as I can, [and] I hope that every woman in America speaks out as well," she continued. "This is literally the biggest civil rights issue, certainly in my lifetime, for women."