Alan Gottlieb: Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor has clearly indicated hostility to the notion that American citizens enjoy a fundamental individual civil right to own and possess firearms. A federal judge who only accepts 90 percent of the Bill of Rights cannot be allowed to become a Supreme Court justice for life.
Despite repeated assurances from Barack Obama during last year’s presidential campaign and since the inauguration that he “supports” the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the new president’s first nomination to fill a pending vacancy on the Supreme Court belies his words.
Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor has clearly indicated hostility to the notion that American citizens enjoy a fundamental individual civil right to own and possess firearms. A federal judge who only accepts 90 percent of the Bill of Rights cannot be allowed to become a Supreme Court justice for life.
This is why I have joined several other prominent gun rights leaders in signing a letter to the U.S. Senate, opposing Sotomayor’s confirmation. She is an activist judge who supports discrimination to further her political agenda.
Sotomayor’s approval of selective discrimination is already well known to members of the high court, and it was clearly rejected. Her philosophy that “policy is created” by the federal appellate courts is anathema to our democratic system of checks and balances, and separation of powers.
Earlier this year, as part of a three-judge panel, Sotomayor participated in a Second Circuit ruling that relied on an antiquated 19th century opinion rejecting the notion that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states, as a limitation on their authority to regulate the right to keep and bear arms. That case, Maloney v. Cuomo, appears headed to the Supreme Court, where, if Sotomayor is seated during oral arguments and subsequent deliberations, she would be in a position to rule on her own ruling.
The Maloney opinion is in direct conflict with an opinion from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – considered the most liberal circuit court in the country – that said the Second Amendment clearly is incorporated as a limit on state and local governments.
Sotomayor’s opinion came months after the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, and it was not the first time she was part of a ruling hostile to individual civil rights. In 2004, Sotomayor was on a panel that ruled in the case of U.S. v. Sanchez-Villar that the Second Amendment does not protect a fundamental civil right to own a firearm.
In neither ruling joined by Sotomayor was there any suggestion that the Supreme Court review the issue of Second Amendment rights and how they apply to state and local statutes. Indeed, in the Maloney opinion, there was no explanation supporting the court’s position. The opinion was summed up in a single paragraph that appears rather arbitrary.
Meanwhile, in two 7th Circuit cases, NRA v. Chicago and McDonald v. Chicago, the court indicated that the question of Second Amendment incorporation should be answered by the high court.
It is unconscionable that a judge aspiring to a position as an associate Supreme Court justice would have so little regard for a key tenet of the Bill of Rights that she would join not one but two opinions rejecting the notion that the individual right even exists, and that the amendment protecting that right does not apply to state and local governments.
Gun owners, regardless of their color, gender or sexual orientation, are not second-class citizens. It does not appear from her record that Sotomayor understands this.
The highest court in the land, and the American people, cannot afford to seat an ideologue who believes that legislating from the bench is acceptable, and rejects one-tenth of the Bill of Rights.
Alan Gottlieb is founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.