As the election nears, it is important to remember that the battle for our rights is fought not only in the halls of Congress, but also before nine people who are seated in a building just across the street from the U.S. Capitol – the Supreme Court.
The next president could have the opportunity to nominate as many as three new justices to the Supreme Court. The recent Heller v. District of Columbia and McDonald v. City of Chicago decisions illustrate all too well the importance of Supreme Court Justices who understand and support the Second Amendment. These victories, which confirmed that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms for all Americans no matter where they live, came by the thinnest possible margin: 5 votes to 4.
The importance of future Supreme Court nominations was brought home again by the recent appearance of Justice John Stevens (Ret.)—one of the dissenting voices in Heller—at an event in Washington this past week for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. His comments were a stark reminder of the importance that Supreme Court appointments have in the protection of our rights.
Justice Stevens said, “it is ‘mind-boggling’ that Congress has not taken significant steps to address the problem of gun violence.” Speaking to a receptive audience at what was effectively a pep rally for the gun control lobby, Justice Stevens embraced the agenda of new restrictions on the Second Amendment. With his mind apparently boggled — his words, not ours — Stevens no doubt believes that current proposals to ban wide categories of guns and ammunition do not go far enough.
Barack Obama’s appointments of Justice Sotormayor and Justice Kagan are a continuation of the same interpretative reasoning of Justice Stevens. Justice Sotormayor was part of the dissenting opinion on the McDonald case. Justice Kagan served as Solicitor General and worked with the same group of people who have been evasive in the ‘Fast and Furious’ investigation. Stevens has called Kagan a “brilliant justice” so it’s quite likely she agrees with his views, on this issue and many others.
A difference of one vote would have brought the opposite outcome in the Heller and McDonald cases. And Justice Ginsberg has already suggested that the cases should be revisited by a “future, wiser court.” Elections matter and the next president will have the opportunity to nominate people who could radically change the meaning and interpretation of the Constitution. Don’t risk your rights this November and remember to #gunvote!