By David Codrea
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- “[M]uch of these Episcopal social justice issues are mirrored in Catholic circles – and Scalia was a staunch Catholic,” a critic asked regarding my trying to find out if “progressive” religious affiliations may influence Supreme Court nominee Neil Goruch’s legal opinions. “Do you want to dig him up and quiz him too?”
I might be persuaded to dig Scalia up if the purpose was a full and open autopsy. As for finding out what his understanding of Founding intent was before endorsing his confirmation, of course I would have. I think a lot of gun owner right advocates would love to have found out what kinds of “limitations” he’d have viewed as consistent with “shall not be infringed.”
Another critic asserted all Gorsuch would need to do is lie, and that would render moot any answers he might give. As those lies would take place in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, that is, under oath, it’s curious that a supposed defender of the right to keep and bear arms is so intent on giving a pass to someone he suspects capable of perjury.
Basically, those objecting to asking Gorsuch some straightforward questions and expecting unequivocal answers are saying nominees should be exempt from serious scrutiny when it comes to rights. We should just shut up and trust our leaders will make sure we get the best man for the job.
Let’s examine a few high-profile examples from recent history, and see how blindly following Republicans has worked out.
First let’s look at Justices William J. Brennan Jr. and Earl Warren, both recess appointments by Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and both nominated for political reasons.
“Eisenhower once called the nominations … his two biggest mistakes,” biographer Kim Eisler confirmed on The New York Times’ opinion page, refuting critics contesting such reports. Brennan was approved “with only Senator [Joseph] McCarthy voting against him,” and Warren was unanimously confirmed. Both proved friends to the “liberals.”
Supposedly “conservative” Warren Burger, a Richard M. Nixon appointee, also was overwhelmingly approved, 74 to 3, with one (Fulbright) answering “Present” and 22 not voting. (As an aside, “I am not a crook” Tricky Dick wanted to ban handguns.) Burger addressed the Second Amendment not in any legal decision, but in Parade Magazine of all places, and had this to say about it on TV:
The Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud,' on the American public,” former chief justice Warren E. Burger said in a 1991 interview on PBS's “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.” Burger has said often that the “right to bear arms” belongs to the states, and he has attacked the NRA for fostering the opposite view.
That brings us to David Souter, appointed by NRA Life Member George H.W. Bush (until he quit in a public huff over Wayne LaPierre calling federal agents who enforce citizen disarmament edicts “jack-booted thugs,” an appellation lifted from Democrat John Dingell).
“Souter had the strong support of Bush's White House chief of staff John Sununu, who would assure his fellow conservatives that Souter would be a “home run” for their team,” Time Magazine recalled. Thus he was confirmed 90 to 9, with all “Nay” votes coming from Democrats.
Let’s look at how closely he was grilled on guns:
“I guess I’m not going to worry about you at all”…?
“[M]y President appointed you, and I think you are going to be a splendid, splendid judge”…?
Anybody see a question – or an answer – in there?
So should we have worried? Was Souter splendid?
Here’s how he did on Heller:
Right to gun ownership is collective, not individual.
“In retrospect, [Sununu] was right about the home run, wrong about the team,” the Time report observed.
We also can’t forget Chief Justice John Roberts, again praised by Republicans as the great conservative hope, confirmed 78 to 22 with all “Nays” coming from the Democrats. While it’s true he voted the right way on Heller and McDonald, not only has his court avoided new Second Amendment cases, his inexplicable forehead-slapper of a ruling on Obamacare enables a threat to RKBA according to Gun Owners of America:
Gun owners have, since 2009, pointed out that the federal health database — created by section 13001 et seq. of the stimulus bill and put in place by ObamaCare — will allow the federal government to troll private health records for the purpose of stripping gun rights from persons with ADHD, PTSD, and similar type maladies.
Not a SCOTUS nominee, but this is tangentially related, here’s another Republican-appointed federal judge – a “mainstream Republican” — who was unanimously confirmed in 2004, and who just blocked President Trump from ensuring “migrants” from problematic Islamist countries aren't hostile. As an aside, I’d like to know this black-robed activist's home address, not for malicious purposes, but to just see how far removed from repercussions of his treasonous ruling he lives.
Now we’re being told by the national “pro gun” groups to trust establishment Republicans to safeguard that which “shall not be infringed” and to go out there and stump for Gorsuch? Will they give us anything besides equivocal happy talk as to why?
We’re not supposed to ask any questions? And if we do, some act like we’re rocking the boat and helping the gun-grabbers? Some get angry?
Some of us – a handful, and probably not enough to make a difference – believe “experience hath shewn”: It’s NOT asking tough questions that has historically helped the Democrats time and again. Raising questions is not disloyal; I’d argue the opposite is true.
If you’re against asking questions and demanding unequivocal answers, you’re saying you’re fine with Brennan, Warren, Burger and Souter, or at least with the rubber stamp process by which they were confirmed. And you offer nothing to change that.
If you’re for asking tough questions, then make your expectations known – to NRA, SAF and GOA, to President Trump, and also to Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans. Also feel free to ask your state gun group why they don't speak up – it's not like this won't affect them.
That's if you're serious about it draining the swamp. Are you?
And regardless, let’s all hope my concerns prove to be completely unfounded. Because unless something completely unforeseen happens, Gorsuch is going to be confirmed. And we’re all going to find out – and be coerced into living with – what he means by “may not be infringed lightly.”
Also see Parts One and Two:
- Freedom Demands Gorsuch Confirmation be more than Just a Rubber Stamp
- Gorsuch Religious Influences and More Fair Game to Question
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.