June 25, 2009

NRA & Senators: Sotomayor Hostile to 2nd Amendment

CFJ Executive Director Curt Levey on the Second Amendment threat to confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor:

Speculation that Sonia Sotomayor’s hostility to the Second Amendment would become the biggest roadblock to her confirmation became reality yesterday, just two days before the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s historic gun rights decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. As leading NRA board member and past President Sandy Froman urged aggressive opposition to the nomination yesterday, key members of the Senate GOP Leadership and their colleagues denounced Sotomayor’s Second Amendment record at a press conference and on the Senate floor.

Given Judge Sotomayor’s record of opposition to the Second Amendment, it’s been widely noted that if gun owners are drawn into the confirmation debate, that could completely change the political equation by causing red state Democrats to run for cover. However, while Gun Owners of America and other prominent Second Amendment advocates had already voiced grave concerns about Sotomayor’s record, the NRA’s top leadership had remained silent. That changed when Froman, a lifetime member of the NRA’s Executive Council, as well as a former law professor and Harvard Law School graduate, issued a clarion call yesterday evening in an op-ed, urging that
“Gun owners, and especially the members of the National Rifle Association, must aggressively oppose Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation to the Supreme Court … [because her] view on the Second Amendment clearly reflects an extreme anti-gun philosophy.”

Froman noted that there are 90 million gun owners in America and emphasized that the opposition she urges can defeat Sotomayor’s nomination:
“I saw NRA members turn the tide on Election Day 2000 to defeat Al Gore. We fought again to help defeat John Kerry in 2004. We can do the same with Sonia Sotomayor, if we call our U.S. Senators and tell them to vote against this anti-gun judge. No fewer than fourteen Democrat senators have solid records on the Second Amendment, and we must urge them to oppose this nominee.”

Froman goes on to explain why defeating Sotomayor is so important for gun owners:
“Today in the Supreme Court, the right to bear arms hangs by a single vote. The next question the Supreme Court will decide is whether the Second Amendment is a ‘fundamental right’ that applies to cities and states … Even the liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held [that it] is a fundamental right, yet Judge Sotomayor disagrees. … If your state or city chooses to ban all guns or take away the ones that you already have in your home for hunting and self-defense, Sonia Sotomayor says the Constitution can’t help you. … Throughout her career, Judge Sotomayor’s record is one of consistent opposition to the private ownership of firearms.”

It is not just gun owners and the Ninth Circuit who believe Sotomayor is on the wrong side of the law. A recent CNN poll found that more than three-quarters of Americans disagree with Sotomayor’s cramped interpretation of the Second Amendment (link below).

Senators Thune, Sessions, Cornyn, DeMint, Hatch and Brownback all voiced similar sentiments to Froman’s. At yesterday’s press conference, Sen. Cornyn emphasized the historic importance of the debate about Sotomayor Second Amendment record:
“This is the first time that I know of in our nation’s history that a Supreme Court nomination will … revolve around the nominee’s commitment to the Bill of Rights, and most particularly the Second Amendment to the Constitution.”

Sen. Hatch focused on the judicial activism Sotomayor displayed in deciding Second Amendment cases:
“Even after the Supreme Court in Heller indicated the Second Amendment protects not only an individual right to keep and bear arms but a pre-existing fundamental right, Judge Sotomayor continued to say that the right to keep and bear arms is not a individual fundamental right and did so when it was not necessary to decide the case before her. This appears to be an approach focused on politically correct results rather than a judicially correct process. Other circuits looking at the issue … gave it much more attention and analysis than did Judge Sotomayor and they did not address the unnecessary issues. … I wish Judge Sotomayor had been similarly restrained on these issues. … [T]his is a fair way of letting her know in advance that this is an important issue to I think a majority of senators in the US Senate and certainly a majority of the people in this country.”

Sen. Sessions, the Ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, focused in part on Sotomayor’s pattern of burying her questionable decisions on the Second Amendment and other high-profile issues by brushing over the key questions:
“[Sotomayor has] provided a breathtakingly short amount of analysis when confronted with novel and important constitutional questions. … Judge Sotomayor’s lack of attention and lack of analysis are troubling. These truncated opinions also suggest a troubling tendency to avoid or casually dismiss difficult Constitutional issues of exceptional importance. Other examples of this [in addition to Second Amendment cases] may include the New Haven Firefighters case, Ricci v. DeStefano, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court, and the Fifth Amendment case, Didden v. Village of Port Chester.”

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