Senate Democrats on Thursday warned that Judge Amy Coney Barrett would reject gun control measures and make America less safe if she were confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The attack on Judge Barrett’s handling of Second Amendment cases opened a new front in Democrats’ bid to discredit her ahead of confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Monday.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, said she has an “extremist, hard-right view of the Second Amendment,” arguing she would oppose universal background checks.
Mr. Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will grill Judge Barrett next week, criticized a dissent she wrote while sitting on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In the case, Judge Barrett disagreed with the ruling to uphold a law that prohibited a nonviolent felon from possessing a firearm.
Mr. Blumenthal said her position was more extreme than her mentor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote District of Columbia v. Heller, which overturned the city’s near-complete ban on gun ownership.
“She would go much farther than her mentor Justice Scalia did in striking down common-sense measures,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “We need to make sure Amy Coney Barrett is shown for what she is.”
It was the latest in Democrats’ attempts to stain the public’s perception of Mr. Trump’s pick for the high court vacancy following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month.
Liberals also have warned that a 6-3 conservative majority on the bench, if Judge Barrett is confirmed, could have a lasting, harmful impact on abortion rights, immigration, health care, voting rights and protections for workers.
Republicans are mostly united in support of Judge Barrett, with only Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska objecting to the Senate moving forward with her nomination ahead of the Nov. 3 elections.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has enough votes, sans Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski, to confirm Judge Barrett, likely by the end of the month.
In the Second Amendment case, Rickey Kanter challenged Wisconsin and federal laws that barred him from owning a firearm because he had been convicted of mail fraud, a nonviolent offense that is a felony.
He served his time and paid his fines. But the law stripped gun ownership rights from people convicted of crimes that require more than one-year imprisonment. The statute does allow for some exceptions, including the ability to petition the attorney general to have gun rights restored.
Kanter claimed the law violated his Second Amendment right. A three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit sided with the government in a 2-1 ruling, saying there was an interest in preventing gun violence.
But Judge Barrett disagreed with her colleagues, who were both Reagan appointees, arguing in a dissent that the founders did not strip felons of the right to own firearms.
“History is consistent with common sense: it demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns. But that power extends only to people who are dangerous,” Judge Barrett wrote. “In 1791 — and for well more than a century afterward — legislatures disqualified categories of people from the right to bear arms only when they judged that doing so was necessary to protect the public safety.”
Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project that backs Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees, said Judge Barrett would guard Americans’ constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment right that empowers citizens to protect themselves and their families.
He took a swipe at Mr. Blumenthal and others he deemed “limousine liberals,” saying they have the luxury of armed protection, while everyday Americans do not.
“Judge Barrett ruled that like any other constitutional right, states must have a compelling reason to deprive nonviolent felons of owning firearms,” Mr. Davis said.