- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor refused yesterday to say whether or not she believes the Constitution guarantees that Americans can keep and bear arms.

The Second Amendment — which enumerates your individual right to own, store and carry guns — is the one that typically troubles liberal nominees most. A conservative or moderate will shrug when asked about it, just as if he had been asked about the First Amendment’s right of the people to “peaceably assemble.” But a modern liberal will need a strategy to slide past this part of the Constitution.

Yesterday, we saw Judge Sotomayor’s strategy. One of her godchildren is a member of the National Rifle Association, she said. And, get this, she actually knows people who hunt. But these are evasions. Either a civil right to gun ownership exists or it does not.

While she also sought to assure senators that she would keep an “open mind” concerning any Second Amendment case, her past rulings tell a different story. As the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre explains on the facing page, she twice wrote that the right to bear arms is not a “fundamental right.”

Furthermore, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Constitution guarantees an individual right to own and carry guns. The next legal question: Does the Heller decision stop not just the federal government, but the individual states as well from infringing that essential right to armed self-defense?

In Maloney v. Cuomo, Judge Sotomayor ruled that the decision did not apply to the states, citing some 19th-century cases. But she completely ignored the fact that the question in those 19th-century cases involved different constitutional clauses than the ones at issue now. Without getting lost in legal minutia, suffice it to say that she completely evaded the issue at hand.

Supposedly pro-gun Democratic senators might feel the heat if she does not more explicitly support the essential, individual right to own guns and they vote to confirm her anyway.

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