President Obama’s nominee to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the US Supreme Court would vote to limit Second Amendment rights if he is confirmed, observers contend.
Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the chief judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to replace Scalia, who died last month on March 16, 2016.
Currently, the court’s makeup is tied, 4-4, on gun rights.
“Garland has a long record, and, among other things, it leads to the conclusion that he would vote to reverse one of Justice Scalia’s most important opinions, D.C. vs. Heller, which affirmed that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms,” Carrie Severino wrote in The National Review.
In 2007 Garland tried to undue a pro-gun federal court ruling that had overturned a Washington D.C. law that banned private ownership of handguns, Severino noted.
“A three-judge panel struck down the ban, but Judge Garland wanted to reconsider that ruling. He voted with Judge David Tatel, one of the most liberal judges on that court,” Severino wrote.
That law was later overturned by the Supreme Court in Heller, in which the justices ruled that the Second Amendment protects private gun ownership.
In an earlier case, Garland ruled that the Clinton administration had a right to retain records of gun buyers for six months, Severino noted. That violated a 1968 federal law in which Congress banned gun registration.
“Garland thought all of these regulations were legal, which tells us two things,” Severino wrote. “First, it tells us that he has a very liberal view of gun rights, since he apparently wanted to undo a key court victory protecting them. Second, it tells us that he’s willing to uphold executive actions that violate the rights of gun owners. That’s not so moderate, is it?”
George Mason University Law Professor Ilya Somin wrote in a Washington Post column that “it is unlikely that Obama would have nominated Garland if he were not going to be a reliable liberal vote on most major issues that might come before the Supreme Court.”
Somin, a conservative, actually believes it might be a good idea for the US Senate to confirm Garland’s nomination. Somin fears that Hillary Clinton will win the election and try to appoint someone further to the left than Garland.
The National Rifle Association opposes Garland’s nomination.
“A basic analysis of Merrick Garland’s judicial record shows that he does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense,” Chris W. Cox of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) said in a press release.
Cox noted that the court is currently evenly divided between pro-Second Amendment conservatives and pro-gun rights liberals.
“With Justice Scalia’s tragic passing, there is no longer a majority of support among the justices for the fundamental, individual right to own a firearm for self-defense,” Cox wrote. “Four justices believe law-abiding Americans have that right – and four justices do not.”
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