By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court [is] Neil M. Gorsuch,” a Tuesday press release from the White House announced, accompanied by a synopsis of the candidate’s judicial background and accomplishments.
“Judge Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist with an outstanding intellect and a clear, incisive writing style,” the release assures us. “He is universally respected for his integrity, fairness, and decency. And he understands the role of judges is to interpret the law, not impose their own policy preferences, priorities, or ideologies.”
“Editorial boards across the country praise Judge Gorsuch,” a Wednesday release corroborates, citing approval from newspaper giants like The Wall Street Journal and even the anti-Trump New York Daily News, all paying tribute to a “leading light” with “impeccable qualifications.”
Of course the praise isn’t actually universal. “Progressives” are doing what they can – which appears to be limited to whining loudly – attacking Gorsuch for “offenses” as … uh … offensive as being a threat to LGBTQ interests. Planned Parenthood views him as an obstacle to government (i.e., “taxpayer”) funding of abortion (presumably meaning Whoopi may have to go back to coat hangers for her next six). And Chuck Schumer and those threatening a filibuster are intent on forcing Republicans to exercise the “nuclear option” if for no other reason than to obstruct and to get attention.
Will he be? What limits does he support?
The natural question for gun owners, because Trump wouldn’t have been elected without them, is will a Gorsuch confirmation honor a campaign pledge to support the right to keep and bear arms? Simply put, how is the guy on guns?
“NRA applauds [his] nomination” and urges “swift confirmation.” Why?
“[H]e wrote in an opinion that ‘the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms and may not be infringed lightly’”…
SAF had much the same take, working off the same talking points:
“We’re especially impressed with the fact that he has observed in a legal opinion that ‘the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms and may not be infringed lightly’”…
What the hell does that mean?
Do we need to call ”Fletcher” in here to cut through the equivocation?
Besides, not all in the “gun community” are “ecstatic.”
GOA’s Larry Pratt and attorney William J. Olson note there is “cause for concern”:
“[T]here is reason for pause with Judge Gorsuch’s record. Judge Gorsuch joined in one opinion, United States v. Rodriguez … which causes us to have some concern about his understanding of the relationship between the government and an armed citizenry … According to the 10th Circuit’s opinion, the police are justified in forcibly disarming every armed citizen based on nothing more than the presence of a concealed firearm. This allows the police to treat every law-abiding gun owner like a criminal – which, in many cases we have seen, includes rough treatment such as grabbing him, twisting his arm behind his back, slamming him down on the ground, and handcuffing him.”
As would be expected, not everyone agrees with that assessment.
“His concurrence with decisions upholding reasonable law-enforcement measures should not be controversial,” attorney and author Andrew F. Branca counters:
“Some in the gun community have characterized Rodriguez and Robinson as holding that a person who exercises his Second Amendment rights is now required to sacrifice his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search. I disagree with that view … The rationale for such a transient taking — the safety of the officer, his partners, the public, and even the person stopped — is compelling and reasonable.”
So what’s the average gun owner supposed to think? And isn’t it in our interests to find out more about how “lightly” Judge Gorsuch intends to tread on our rights?
Typically in judicial confirmation hearings, nominees have been able to rely on an “out” giving them a pass on answering specific questions:
“In recent decades a recurring Senate issue has been what kinds of questions are appropriate for Senators to pose to a Supreme Court nominee appearing at hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Particularly at issue has been whether, or to what extent, questions by committee members should seek out a nominee’s personal views on current legal or constitutional issues or on past Supreme Court decisions that have involved those issues. Usually, when Senators at confirmation hearings have asked Supreme Court nominees to comment on topical legal and constitutional issues, the nominees have firmly declined to do so. In those situations, the nominees typically have taken the position that answers to questions which convey their personal views would conflict with their obligation to avoid appearing to make commitments, or provide signals, as to how they would vote as a Justice on future cases.”
Think of one job you’ve ever applied for where you’d have gotten it if you decided to play coy with the hiring managers. While it may be “inappropriate” for a judge to weigh in on a specific case before confirmation — for legitimate reasons, including not having studied and evaluated all the particulars, evidence and precedents against the “supreme Law of the Land,” — there’s no reason why general principles of understanding should be off-limits. Such hearings are supposed to be, among other things, high-level employment interviews, not pre-coronation ceremonies.
As such, here are questions gun owner rights advocates should expect the representatives they enable and support to ask Judge Gorsuch, things he shouldn’t have any trouble answering:
- What did the Founders mean by “A well regulated militia”?
- What did the Founder mean by “being necessary to the security of a free State”?
- What did the Founders mean by “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”?
- What did the Founders mean by “shall not be infringed”?
- How can past Supreme Court opinion specifying protected arms as those being “in common use at the time” not apply to the types of firearms needed for militia service?
I’d also add a tangentially-related question, one not directly part of the “single issue,” but one that nonetheless is being used to undermine it:
- What Constitutional basis is there to “secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” by exercising protective measures over who may enter the country and who may become a citizen?
Naturally I don’t expect anyone to ask these questions. I expect confirmation, with Republicans telling us this guy’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and Democrats stirring up the ANTIFA rabble to convince everyone he’s a Nazi.
And that’s too bad, because here we have a chance to make an appointment that will last a lifetime, and now’s no time to go soft on the Establishment or to otherwise compromise. Gorsuch may turn out to be the judicial hero we’ve all been hoping for, or he may turn out to be just another dud (or worse). Shouldn’t gun owners find out as much as we can before sealing the deal?
If anyone would like to join me in tilting at windmills, I’m going to send this column’s link to Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans (doing so to the Democrats would be useless), along with the message “Ask Gorsuch the questions.” (Although perhaps, noting Judiciary includes names like Flake, Graham and Hatch, the most expedient thing to do would be to just send a tweet to Ted Cruz. What are they gonna do if he asks them, not like him anymore?)
Democrats and gun-grabbers (but I repeat myself) are going to make us fight every step of the way for Gorsuch. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to know who – and what – we’re fighting for.
- Gorsuch Religious Influences and More Fair Game to Question
- Trusting Republicans on SCOTUS Nominees Has Resulted in Big ‘Progressive’ Wins
About David Codrea:
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.
In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.