It’s hard to overstate what a massive blow President Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Court of Appeals, will be to our safety as Americans.
From the gun lobby’s perspective, his nomination could not be more timely. We as a nation are at a real crossroads when it comes to gun laws—a crossroads that the Supreme Court has been scrupulously avoiding for a decade. Our Supreme Court last carefully examined the Second Amendment in 2008’s District v. Heller case. In Heller, while the Court ruled (explicitly for the first time) that individual citizens had a right to private gun ownership, the Court also ruled that this right had limitations (naming a couple of examples like keeping guns out of the hands of violent felons as examples of exceptions)… but then has since failed to clarify just what these limitations are by refusing to entertain arguments on subsequent gun cases. While both the Court and Congress (and our state legislature) have failed to act, gun manufacturers have been flooding the market with military-style weapons and pushing products like bump stocks that easily convert guns with less firepower into military-style killing machines, and the gun lobby has fought to loosen regulations on every firearm and firearm accessory available in this country.
In the twelve years he has served on the appellate bench, Kavanaugh—usually writing in dissent–has long towed the “strict constructionist” Constitutional interpretative line so famously championed by jurists like Heller’s author, Antonin Scalia, in which all laws are to be scrutinized through the lens of what the Constitution’s framers allegedly had in mind when the document was drafted in the last decade and a half of the 1700s—it’s a perspective that places him at odds with nearly every progressive reform that’s occurred in our country since then. However, in the lone gun case (also filed by Heller and referred to as Heller II) on which he opined during his time on the court, he rejected Scalia’s reasoning in Heller and fully sided with the gun lobby, writing a dissent lambasting the D.C. court for upholding a District-wide ban on assault rifles.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, we will all be placed in the gun lobby’s line of fire. His dissent in Heller II shows a man who is more than ready to push the NRA agenda from the bench; that, coupled with the distinctly conservative bent of the Court’s majority these days, could lead not only to more gun cases at the Supreme Court level, but more loosened regulations on guns than we’ve seen in this country since the days of the Wild West. We need to do everything we can to protect the Constitution and, more importantly, protect ourselves, our children, and their children—we need to fight Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination with every ounce of energy that we have.