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Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett: New 2A Champion?

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett has been sworn in…now we wait.

From the moment Donald Trump announced his nominee for U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, the Second Amendment community has been scouring her record on gun rights–and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is optimistic. Now that she has been sworn in, America’s gun owners can (hopefully) look forward to several decades of pro-gun rulings from Justice Barrett. There is always reason to temper one’s optimism with a little bit of pragmatism, but that doesn’t mean we can’t raise a toast to Justice Barrett and enjoy this moment of actual good news in Terrible 2020.

Justice Barrett was reported favorably in a unanimous vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee when Senate Democrats abdicated their duty to vote and boycotted the committee vote, including Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Justice Barrett endured four days of committee confirmation hearings during which she deftly answered all questions and accusations by senators opposed to her nomination without the benefit of references or notes. Her mental acuity and comprehension of Constitutional law was on full display.

What we know now

What do we know about her record on gun rights? Justice Barrett listed a Second Amendment-related case, Kanter v Barr, as the most important opinion she authored. In that opinion, she (and the court she was on at the time) heard a gun-rights case that decided a non-violent felon should be permanently stripped of his Second Amendment rights. Justice Barrett’s opinion was the dissenting opinion–that non-violent felons who are not a public safety threat should not be permanently stripped of their Second Amendment rights.

That’s a very strong, originalist, pro-Second Amendment position!

We recently ran an article here on GGD about that exact topic, and invited our readers to weigh in. With 80 comments and counting, the consensus seems to be that non-violent felons should have an avenue to have their rights restored…but that these should be considered carefully and on a case-by-case basis. It seems that Justice Amy Barrett–at least on this one topic–is very much in line with the Second Amendment community.

The NSSF’s take on this news? “Justice Barrett joins at least four other U.S. Supreme Court Justices who are rooted in originalism and interpret the Constitution as meaning today what it meant when it was drafted by the Founding Fathers,” says the NSSF. “NSSF is extremely pleased with the confirmation of Justice Barrett and we are confident her service to the nation and the Supreme Court will have tremendous and lasting impact for decades and generations.”

So what’s this “now we wait” business?

As we’ve discussed before, the fact that we now have five members of the Supreme Court that hold “originalist” interpretations of the Constitution doesn’t mean that we’ll always get pro-2A rulings. The fact of the matter is that the Court can only rule on the cases in front of them, and they can only rule on the facts of those cases. Furthermore, the Supremes choose which cases to hear–and sometimes they can go decades without hearing a Second Amendment case.

Finally, although we say a hearty “Cheers!” to any pro-2A jurist, this doesn’t mean that our work is over. Many of the worst threats to the Second Amendment are insidious, slow, culturally driven, and not subject to a judge’s gavel. Say, for example, the closing of local shooting ranges due to overbearing local ordinances. Or the repeated attempts to criminalize ownership of certain types of guns based on cosmetic appearance alone. Or attempts to criminalize certain types of ammunition based on junk science (if there’s any science at all). Any of the above might some day make the basis of a Supreme Court case—but if it does, that means that someone’s rights have already been demonstrably infringed upon for a long time.

Be of good cheer, gun-rights supporters…but it’s not time to go Condition White yet.

 

 

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