EDITORIAL: Kagan’s Snowe job on gun rights

Obama nominee is a threat to the Second Amendment

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The more it looks like the Senate will confirm Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, the more gun owners should worry. Yesterday, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine became the fourth Republican to stand behind President Obama’s nominee on the phony basis that Ms. Kagan supports gun rights.

Mrs. Snowe explained in a press release that, “as a longtime, ardent supporter of Second Amendment rights, it was critical that [Solicitor] General Kagan stated during her testimony that the precedents set by the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald cases - which upheld a personal right to possess a firearm - are ‘deeply rooted in this nation’s history and traditions’ and are ‘settled law’; that she has ‘absolutely no reason to think that the court’s analysis was incorrect in any way’; and, that she will apply these cases as law ‘going forward.’ “

We’ve been down this road before. Less than a year ago, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, made similar assurances regarding then-Supreme Court hopeful Sonia Sotomayor, saying, “I do not see how any fair observer could regard her testimony as hostile to the Second Amendment personal right to bear arms, a right she has embraced and recognizes.”

Once the “wise Latina” donned the robes of her lifetime office, any pretense of upholding the individual’s right to bear arms was jettisoned. Ms. Sotomayor signed onto the gun rights dissent of Justice Stephen G. Breyer last month, which stated, “I can find nothing in the Second Amendment’s text, history or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as ‘fundamental’ insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes.”

There’s reason to think Ms. Kagan will follow the same path. Her past writings suggest her confirmation hearings were orchestrated to fool squishy Republicans like Mrs. Snowe, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine. As a Supreme Court law clerk, Ms. Kagan wrote that she was “not sympathetic” toward protecting Second Amendment rights. She was also instrumental in developing President Clinton’s gun-control regulations during the 1990s. These positions are far more likely to represent her true views than highly scripted testimony designed to downplay controversial views.

No senator, Democrat or Republican, can claim he supports gun ownership and then turn around and elevate someone to the nation's highest court who will work to undermine the fundamental nature of the Second Amendment. A vote for Ms. Kagan is a vote for a nominee who will join with Justices Breyer and Sotomayor to scale back - and try to eliminate - the individual’s right to gun ownership.

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