In June of this year, during her short-lived presidential campaign, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) made headlines by openly calling for a pro-abortion litmus test to be used in appointing federal judges.
According to Sen. Gillibrand: “‘There’s some issues that have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable. Imagine saying that it’s OK to appoint a judge who’s racist, or anti-Semitic, or homophobic… All these efforts by President Trump, and other ultra-radical conservative judges and justices to impose their faith on Americans is contrary to our Constitution… There is no moral equivalency when you come to racism, and I do not believe there’s a moral equivalency when it comes to laws that deny women reproductive freedom.’”
While Sen. Gillibrand’s presidential campaign is (mercifully) over, her commitment to a pro-abortion litmus test continues. Sadly, a pro-life judicial candidate from the Capital District has fallen victim to that litmus test.
Earlier this year, Cohoes, N.Y. City Court Judge Tom Marcelle was nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Marcelle is a graduate of Cornell Law School who has a wide range of experience, including stints as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice; as counsel to the Republican members of the Albany County Legislature; as senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom; and as Albany County Attorney.
In 2001, Marcelle represented a Bible club in a religious liberty case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, Good News Club v. Milford Central School, 533 U.S. 98 (2001), the Court ruled that elementary school students in Otsego, New York had the right to meet after school in a public school building for Bible study and prayer.
On August 29, 2019, the Albany Times Union reported that Marcelle’s nomination had been blocked by Sen. Gillibrand due to his opposition to abortion. This information was confirmed by Sen. Gillibrand’s office. (A longstanding Senate tradition allows U.S. senators to block judicial nominations from their respective home states by refusing to issue a “blue slip.”) After Sen. Gillibrand single-handedly derailed his nomination, Marcelle withdrew his name from consideration for the judgeship.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is outraged and disgusted at Sen. Gillibrand’s treatment of Tom Marcelle. The Senator’s action should prompt Sen. Mitch McConnell to give serious consideration to ending the “blue slip” tradition once and for all.