May 13, 2020

Moot Points, Gun Laws and the Supreme Court

The Journal’s editorial board would like to blame us for the failure of a major 2nd Amendment challenge at the Supreme Court.

The Journal’s editorial board joined Justice Samuel Alito to blame us for the failure of a major Second Amendment challenge at the Supreme Court (“The Chief Justice Ducks on Gun Rights,” April 28). The Justice alleges that we somehow “manipulated” the court. That’s rich, in light of the right-wing dark-money machine surrounding the court.

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York was the product of what the National Rifle Association—a major Republican donor, gun industry front group and right-wing political force—has called its “project,” aimed at tearing down common-sense gun safety measures and boosting gun sales. Losing wasn’t what the NRA had in mind when it poured $1.2 million into ads supporting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh; it must be frustrating that Justice Kavanaugh sided against them this time.

Now, the NRA and its right-wing media allies are inflamed. Surely, Democrats who have the temerity to call out special-interest judicial “projects” and the dark-money machinery that enables them are strong-arming delicate conservative justices, the Journal claims.

The truth is, the NRA’s “project” continues, with Republican-appointed justices calling the shots. While Justice Alito in his dissent in N.Y. Rifle claimed that NRA opponents gamed the system to get this decision, Justice Kavanaugh’s concurrence flagrantly invited another gun case to finish this NRA “project”—a signal to the right-wing dark-money machine that boosting Mr. Kavanaugh was still the right call.

The NRA knows Americans want to protect themselves from grimly routine and senseless gun violence. But rather than turn to Congress, where its agenda is dead on arrival, the NRA engineers cases like N.Y. State Rifle and stocks the federal judiciary with judges receptive to its arguments.

So yes, there is manipulation at the Supreme Court, but it is not by Senate Democrats. It is up to the court to clean up its house.

By: Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.)