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Political Report | Media Ignore Facts In Dismissing NRA’s Concerns About Supreme Court Nominee

Political Report | Media Ignore Facts In Dismissing NRA’s Concerns  About Supreme Court Nominee

Photo credit: Michael Ives

This feature appears in the June ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.

When it comes to issues that gun owners care about, media seem to compete for the most outrageous claims. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that while readership of traditional newspapers and trust in media are at record lows, support for the NRA and the values we support are increasing.

The New York Times’ March editorial criticizing the NRA’s opposition to Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination is a contender for the most extreme case of media bias in recent memory. According to the Times, the NRA opposes Garland simply because “it doesn’t like him” and “for no fact-based reason.” Whether the editors are trying to mislead their readers or are simply spouting assumptions without checking facts doesn’t matter. Either way, the embattled newspaper continues to squander what little credibility it has left.The New York Times’ March editorial criticizing the NRA’s opposition to Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination is a contender for the most extreme case of media bias in recent memory.

Garland’s likability as a person is not at issue. What is at issue is his record in cases related to the Second Amendment. As liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Public accountability through the disclosure of votes and opinion authors puts the judge’s conscience and reputation on the line.”

When we opposed Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, the Times falsely insisted that she had “no record” on the NRA’s issues. True to our warnings—and despite Sotomayor’s hollow assurances during her confirmation hearings—her first vote on the Second Amendment as a Supreme Court justice saw her siding with those who believe the individual rights interpretation in District of Columbia v. Heller was wrong.

Garland’s record leads us to expect more of the same. And while the Times might interpret his record differently, it is journalistic malfeasance to insist that the NRA has no basis for opposing him.

In the 2000 case NRA v. Reno, we sued to block the Clinton Justice Department’s policy of compiling and retaining records from successful firearm background checks. Federal law requires destruction of records from approved checks; prohibits transferring the information to and recording it at a government facility; and prohibits the government from using the records to establish any firearm registration system. The retention scheme, the NRA argued, plainly violated these provisions.  

Of the three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit who heard the case, Garland was one of two who voted to uphold the Clinton administration policy, thus allowing the federal government to keep records on law-abiding gun owners who passed a federal background check. 

Even more telling, Garland voted in favor of rehearing the pro-gun ruling in Parker v. District of Columbia, the precursor case to Heller. After a three-judge panel held that the D.C. handgun ban violated the Second Amendment, D.C. officials predictably asked the full court to reconsider and save the ban. Garland voted in favor of rehearing the case.Both Heller and McDonald v. Chicago were decided by a single vote, and that vote is now gone. 

Several media outlets, and a number of left-leaning law professors, have tried to hide Garland’s anti-gun record by portraying these votes as merely “procedural,” in an attempt to confuse people regarding his view of the Second Amendment. But the fact is, judges do not vote to rehear decisions with which they agree. If a judge thinks a panel’s opinion was wrong, he or she votes to have the full court rehear it. If a judge thinks a panel’s opinion was correct, he or she lets it stand. Plain and simple.

The NRA will not stand idly by and allow these attempts at obfuscation hide a very fundamental truth: Both Heller and McDonald v. Chicago were decided by a single vote, and that vote is now gone. That means there is no longer majority support among the justices for our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the future of gun ownership hangs in the balance. 

The Garland nomination also serves as a reminder of what’s at stake in this year’s elections. The next president could have as many as three or four Supreme Court vacancies to fill. There should be no doubt that if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, her nominees would vote to overturn Heller and McDonald. After all, Clinton said at a political rally that the Supreme Court “got it wrong” in Heller. Nothing can be clearer than that.

Heller. McDonald. Names that have come to symbolize the essence of freedom for tens of millions of Americans. In the blink of an eye, a new Supreme Court that embraces the anti-gun views of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could erase those decisions. Election Day 2016 is our opportunity to make sure that nightmare does not become a reality.