Capitol Alert

California Women’s Caucus sends ‘advice letter’ to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee

The women helping to lead the world’s sixth-largest economy sent a letter of advice this month to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

“You have the ability to empower and engage the 162 million women that make the United States of America a beacon of hope and prosperity to the world,” wrote 20 Democratic state legislators from the California Legislative Women’s Caucus who signed the letter. “Don’t let us down.”

The federal Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for Gorsuch on Monday.

Abortion-rights groups have pressured Senate Democrats in Washington to block Gorsuch’s appointment to the high court over past rulings in support of religious challenges to a contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act.

“We’re concerned with the history of Mr. Gorsuch that he will go against women’s rights and take us steps back,” said Assembywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, who chairs the women’s caucus. “We’re letting the women in California and the women across the country know that we in the women’s caucus are vocal and ready to fight.”

The letter reaffirms the legislators’ support for women’s reproductive rights, equal pay, access to childcare, Planned Parenthood and calls on Gorsuch to join them. It also includes a subtle threat: Attempts to roll back Roe vs. Wade, a landmark abortion case, would serve “as a rally cry for women everywhere.”

In an accompanying video, the legislators recite the letter.

“We’ve lived in a system where our fathers, brothers and husbands have owned us and been able to make our decisions,” Garcia said. “We’re afraid that we’re going back in that direction with the new administration.”

The caucus sent the letter as congressional Republicans move to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California said the plan would cut $174 million in federal funding to its 115 centers across the state.

Trump nominated Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in January to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch has the approval of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby airing ads supporting his nomination. He made headlines last month after U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said Gorsuch spoke out against Trump during a private meeting, calling the president’s comments about judges that halted his executive orders “demoralizing” and “disheartening.”

The women’s caucus is the latest group of California politicians to vocally oppose the new administration. Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon have repeatedly pledged to uphold California’s values on immigration, environmental quality and other issues since Trump took office.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna