Friday, June 12, 2009

Sotomayor on Guns

A couple weeks ago a "satirical" story went around the internet about Sonia Sotomayor's law-school papers. When I posted about it, I hadn't noticed that it was supposed to be satire. The ribbing I got from some of the commenters a few hours later when everyone in the world saw the truth was well-deserved, and I think well-received.

Now, Yahoo News reports on the latest, hopefully genuine information, about the judge's gun stance.

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor told a senator Thursday that she would follow a historic ruling affirming Americans' right to own guns for self-defense, but pro-gun activists said they still believe she'd work to limit gun rights if confirmed for the high court.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado said Sotomayor told him during a private meeting that she considers the 2008 ruling that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban as settled law that would guide her decisions in future cases. In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court held that individuals have a constitutional right to guns.

But the statement gave little comfort to gun rights activists. Conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said that earlier in the week, Sotomayor told him in a similar closed-door session that she stood by an appellate court decision she signed this year that said the Second Amendment protection from curbs on the right to bear arms applied only to federal laws — not state or local ones. That ruling, Maloney v. Cuomo, left it up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the rights recognized in the Heller case applied throughout the country.

Gun rights activists are right to be concerned. The Maloney decision is one in which Sotomayor and two other judges on the 2nd Circuit appeals court upheld a New York state law banning the possession of "chuka sticks." They said they were bound by an 1886 Supreme Court ruling — not by Heller, which didn't address the question of whether the Second Amendment applied to states.

I'm tempted to say, now who's going to have the last laugh, but I'm doubtful she'll survive the gruelling confirmation process. I've already seen too much negative propaganda, much of which must have the NRA's fingerprints on it.

What's your opinion? Do you think she's hostile to gun rights? Would that make her anti-freedom? Isn't it possible for someone to oppose the pro-gun movement and do so with integrity and good intentions?

Please leave a comment.


  1. The distinction of weapons is fairly common.

    In my state, I can legally carry an AR-15 pistol with a 120 round drum magazine filled with AP ammo but it is illegal for me to carry pepper spray concealed.

    Go figure.

    The SCOTUS will most likely take up the incorporation challenge soon.

  2. Regarding 2A jurisprudence. There's very little of it from the SCOTUS, and the precedent we do have to look at is from the 1800's (Cruikshank & Presser)

    This means that obviously the 2A does not apply to the states if you punt the incorporation issue by deferring to precedent. When Cruikshank & Presser were decided NONE of the BOR applied to the states. The legal doctrine of incorporation didn't come along until decades later.

    Technically Sotomayor is correct. SHE was bound by precedent, since she's in a lower court. The SCOTUS however is a different matter. Stare Decisis is merely suggestion. The Court can (and has) ignored precedent when those prior cases were wrongly decided or based on bad or outdated law.

    If you consider Presser and Cruikshank from the perspective of modern Constitutional jurisprudence they are quite obviously outdated and based on obsolete legal reasoning. Racism also played a huge role in those decisions. (a la Dred Scott)

  3. I wasn't really making fun of you for falling for the satire, Mike--that had to be pointed out to me, too--I was just telling you not to get your hopes up.

    I don't think there's any stopping her confirmation, which is unfortunate, but it's hardly an apocalyptic calamity for gun rights--she's a citizen disarmament tyranny advocate replacing another citizen disarmament tyranny advocate.

    No net change.

  4. Here's the kind of world MikeB wants. One where otherwise law abiding citizens are forced to break the law to defend themselves when the people in power have 24 hr protection. Good thing the beat cops support the citizens:

    "As he reached to hit me again, I drew my pistol," he said. "He saw the pistol, and I shot and missed him totally 'cause I was half-knocked. He took off running."

    Chicago police who responded did what officers often do in the city's toughest neighborhoods. They pretended that the victim had not broken the law by defending himself with an illegal handgun.

    "Nothing was said about the gun going off," he said. "The police come over to make a report. The guy said to me, 'Well, you're lucky you weren't killed. You should've had a gun with you. If you had killed the guy, then you would have had to say you took the gun off him.'"

  5. I wouldn't feel too bad about not noticing the original article as satire.

    I remember an anti over on HuffPo who cited an article from "The Onion" to support his claims.

  6. More of MikeB's gun free island paradise:

    A father of four is beaten to death after asking drunken teens to be quiet and another fellow is killed for refusing a give a cigarrette, and a 10 and 11 yr old are arrested for robbery and assault.

  7. I remember an anti over on HuffPo who cited an article from "The Onion" to support his claims.

    Now that's funny!

  8. This is a bit off topic but I just wanted to take the time to say that I honestly do appreciate MikeB having the honesty to admit that his knowledge of firearms and gun laws is somewhat limited and that he has pledged to read up on the subject as much as time allows.

    I've been reading your comments MikeB on various blogs and just wanted to let you know that I strongly encourage your decision.

    I have said numerous times to numerous people, don't take anything at face value. I will never knowingly lie to you, but again, take the information you receive from whatever source and do your own research. Then we can have an intellectual debate of ideas and leave the insults behind.

    But I will say this.

    If I want to increase my homes' energy efficiency, I'm not going to ask the amish people.

    If I want to find out the best way to lure a Tom turkey within bow range, I'm not going to ask PETA.

    If you really do want to learn about guns and gun laws, getting your info from the Brady Campaign or the VPC is a bit silly.

    They hate guns, they don't own guns, they don't shoot guns and there has never been a single restrictive gun law that both have not endorsed.

    I certainly don't claim to be an expert, and I can't speak for anyone else, but you are sometimes alienating an unimaginably huge resource of information from people who are far from novices on a subject you claim a desire to more fully understand.

    We've been fairly civil to date and I wish to keep it that way. I will attack your premise, your reasoning, your logic and your base arguments, but I will do my utmost to avoid attacking you personally.

    If I ever cross the line, please let me know.

    One more thing, if you remain civil with me yet still make baseless personal attacks against people I consider close online friends, I'm gonna have some issues with that.

    By the same token, even though I am a relative newcomer to this blog site and MikeB in general, and many other may have an extensive history of tit for tat insults, I would request that we all back up a bit and make a fresh start.

    It's so rare to have a pro gun-control person who responds to comments and I would like to foster that.

  9. Thanks for the comments, guys.

    At least I never cited The Onion as a source.

  10. "Isn't it possible for someone to oppose the pro-gun movement and do so with integrity and good intentions?"

    "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Daniel Webster, 1782-1852, U.S. Senator

  11. Yup, every single time the government has disarmed citizens it's been under the guise of "good intentions."

    History has shown us how that worked out for the disarmed.