Scalia’s Replacement Supports Heller Decision
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“Any senator who opposes Gorsuch can say goodbye to their pro-gun credentials in their next election.” -- GOA Legislative Counsel Michael Hammond, USA Today, February 6, 2017
Trump Selects a Justice in the Mold of Antonin Scalia
Last week, President Trump announced his pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court -- Judge Neil Gorsuch.
Trump, along with everyone else in Washington, recognizes what’s at stake with this pick.
There are currently four votes on the Supreme Court to overturn the Heller case and the McDonald case.
If this were to happen, then, as far as the courts are concerned, the Second Amendment would be ripped out of the Constitution of the United States.
Given that Neil Gorsuch has recognized that the Second Amendment is an individual right, it is expected that he would follow the Heller decision and the legacy of Justice Antonin Scalia.
We understand that the defeat of President Trump’s nominee could mean that Scalia’s seat would held open by the minority until it could be filled by someone who is rabidly anti-gun -- and who would tip the balance of the court in favor of the repeal of the Second Amendment as an individual right.
We admire the fact that Gorsuch has sometimes gone out on a limb on behalf of the right to keep and bear arms.
Gorsuch defends the Firearms Owners Protection Act
In U.S. v. Games-Perez, Gorsuch stated, in dicta, that an individual should not be able to be convicted of a “gun possession” offense unless the person knew his actions were unlawful.
Gorsuch understands the significance of that word “knowingly,” which was inserted into the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA).
In fact, we can say that Gorsuch -- alone among the three-judge panel in Games-Perez -- correctly discerned what the FOPA language meant.
GOA’s Legislative Counsel was the chief staffer in the U.S. Senate who helped draft the “knowing” language in FOPA.
As an attorney working in the Senate in the mid-1980’s, he insisted on inserting the word “knowingly” into to the bill to make sure that innocent gun owners would not be convicted of possessing guns, when they were unaware they were prohibited persons.
Gorsuch’s correct understanding of the law (as seen in the Games-Perez case) would make a conviction harder because the government must prove the accused gun owner -- such as a military veteran suffering from PTSD -- actually knows that he’s violating the law.
Anti-gun groups have declared jihad against Gorsuch
It’s this very Games-Perez case which convinces anti-gun groups they must oppose Gorsuch.
Says USA Today about these groups: “They cite his role in Games-Perez and other cases as reason for their opposition.”
No wonder that the New York Times says that Gorsuch, if confirmed, would be the second most conservative justice on the Court -- second only to Justice Clarence Thomas.
Gun owners should understand that the goal of Gorsuch’s opponents -- many of whom announced their opposition before his identity was known -- does not spring from any judgment about Gorsuch’s qualifications, which are excellent.
Rather, these opponents will denigrate any nominee until they can fill Scalia’s seat with someone who will dismantle his legacy.
‘Scalia-esque’ approach to jurisprudence
Also of interest to gun owners, Gorsuch is widely viewed as favoring an expansive interpretation of the Fourth Amendment prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures.
Thus, while he has not been perfect in his jurisprudence, Gorsuch is expected to narrowly limit police “gun searches” of your person, your car or your home.
Gorsuch is also among the minority of “conservative” jurists who are skeptical of what is called “Chevron deference,” where judges tend to defer to agency interpretations.
Gorsuch has said that this deference allows executive bureaucracies to trample upon people’s constitutional rights.
This concern is good news for gun owners, since we would expect Gorsuch to be more wary of the ATF’s crazy interpretations of firearms laws.
P.S. President Trump has nominated a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia -- a justice who has argued for upholding the Second Amendment and who is hated by anti-gun groups. Please urge your Senators to vote for Gorsuch’s confirmation.