A “friend-of-the-court” brief from five U.S. senators, all Democrats, in a Second Amendment case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court made news for its impudence. The entire document is accusatory, especially its final paragraph, which states:
“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.”
The senators are Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). In what The Wall Street Journal called “an enemy of the court brief, they are demanding that the high court drop New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, a case challenging a New York City gun-control law.
These senators obviously fear the Supreme Court will faithfully apply its Heller precedent and thereby condemn the contested regulation and perhaps establish a standard of review that would threaten other egregious regulations now preventing millions of law-abiding Americans from utilizing their Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear (as in carry) arms.
The threat that the court might be “restructured” if the justices rule for freedom is a change in tactics. Recently, Democratic critics of the high court have more typically tried to sway Chief Justice John Roberts by calling a potential ruling extreme. This time, they’ve opted to directly threaten the court. They are doing so at a time when some Democrats have called for a modern attempt at “court packing”—a move to alter the court’s makeup by increasing the number of justices.
Even the Left sees this as a major change in tone. The left-wing website ThinkProgress, for example, said (approvingly) the friend-of-the-court brief was a “declaration of war” on the conservative justices.
This case involves a challenge to a New York City law that prevented gun owners—residents who have “premises” permits—from taking their firearms outside the city even if the guns were unloaded and in a locked container separate from ammunition.
After the court accepted the case last January, New York City tweaked the restrictions in an attempt to squash the Supreme Court case. New York City now says that because they altered the law, the case is moot. They say this even though New York City -could still re-enact similar or worse regulations if left to their own devices The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider whether the case should be dropped on Oct. 1.
These Democratic senators also wrote:
“The lead petitioner’s parent organization, the National Rifle Association (NRA), promoted the confirmation (and perhaps selection) of nominees to this Court who, it believed, would ‘break the tie’ in Second Amendment cases. During last year’s confirmation proceedings, the NRA spent $1.2 million on television advertisements declaring exactly that: ‘Four liberal justices oppose your right to self-defense,’ the NRA claimed, ‘four justices support your right to self-defense. President Trump chose Brett Kavanaugh to break the tie. Your right to self-defense depends on this vote.’”
The First Amendment, as the Democratic senators must be aware, protects the “freedom of speech” and the right to “petition the government.” This latter part, of course, protects a right to lobby.
It is hardly uncommon—today and throughout American history—for American citizens and their associations of all ideological persuasions to point out that justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have judicial philosophies that affect how they vote. Doing so is an important check on democratically elected representatives in government—men and women who nominate, vet and vote on Supreme Court justices. And because Supreme Court justices are effectively appointed for life, they are less vulnerable to political pressure than politicians who must face re-election.
Already, a legal watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Bar against Sen. Whitehouse, counsel of record on the brief. The brief accuses Whitehouse of the unauthorized practice of law (for practicing law on an inactive Rhode Island license or practicing law in Washington, D.C., without admission to the D.C. Bar.) The complaint also argues Whitehouse violated the Rhode Island Bar’s rules of professional conduct by attacking the integrity of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Whether this stunt will backfire on gun-control advocates remains to be seen, but it’s perhaps telling that only five of the most extreme anti-gun members of the Senate were willing to sign onto the filing. The brief in any event is further evidence of an increasingly radicalized and confrontational left-wing fringe that refuses to recognize the legitimacy of any opposition to its agenda.
(Frank Miniter’s latest book is The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide to the Workplace.)
Most-Revealing Anti-Freedom Quote of the Week
“The point is you don’t want people using assault weapons so the point is if you’re arrested for using an assault weapon you’re going to be arrested for an aggravated felony. The whole point is when you make it a crime to own an assault weapon then if you are found using it, that would be the issue. It would be part of law enforcement.” –Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is saying she wants to ban all modern semi-automatic rifles and then to press felony charges on anyone who doesn’t comply.
Pro-Freedom Quote of the Week
“There are a lot of downsides to passing more legislation that doesn’t do anything positive.” –Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Politico.