U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday came out in opposition to Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court opening.
The New York Democrat, who has become noted for her opposition on the Senate floor to Trump's Cabinet nominees, joined Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer in opposing Gorsuch, a Denver-based federal appeals court judge who would replace the late Judge Antonin Scalia, a conservative judge who died unexpectedly last February.
Gillibrand cited concerns about Gorsuch's pro-business rulings, including one in which he sided with Hobby Lobby in its contention that being required to provide contraceptive health care to its employees violated the businesses' religious liberty.
“Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch has proven to have a judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream and time and again has subjugated individual rights to those of corporations," Gillibrand said in a statement. "I fundamentally disagree with his ruling that a boss should be able to make family planning decisions for an employee and that corporations are people.”
Albany Law School professor Stephen Gottlieb said the Hobby Lobby decision should concern the Senate, because it implies someone can get out of paying a tax if they have a religious objection.
"Hobby Lobby has the potential to tear up a lot of our law," he said.
Gillibrand said she would uphold the traditional requirement that Supreme Court nominees receive at least 60 votes in the Senate -- a position that would leave the nomination subject to the Democratic filibuster that Schumer has threatened.
Reaction to Gorsuch's nomination Tuesday night has generally fallen along party lines, with Democrats against and Republicans in favor.
"Judge Gorsuch is highly regarded as a legal scholar, experienced in practical application of the law and possessing the judicial temperament to decide cases based upon the Constitution and the law," said U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook.
On Wednesday, Gillibrand continued her pattern of voting against Trump Cabinet nominees, voting against former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. He was confirmed by a 56-43 margin.
On Tuesday she voted against the nomination of Elaine Chao for secretary of transportation, one of only six senators to do so.
To date, the only Trump nominee she has supported is United Nations Ambassador Nicki Haley.
Gillibrand, like many Democrats, has also been outspokenly critical of Trump's ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Gillibrand's steadfast opposition to Trump's nominees has led to speculation that she could be interested in running for president in 2020 -- speculation her office has declined to comment on, saying she is focusing on her 2018 re-election plans.
Gottlieb, the law professor, said opposition to Gorsuch may be a litmus test for Democratic senators eyeing a run for president in 2020.
"I hope she is trying to take a position toward 2020, because I'd vote for her," he said of Gillibrand.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.