Supreme Court Showdown—Why Judge Gorsuch Must Be Confirmed

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posted on April 5, 2017
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The last time I spoke with Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA-ILA, he said something that should make every gun owner’s blood run cold: Right now, we don’t have a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold our basic right to keep and bear arms. Four justices hold the opinion that the Second Amendment may protect your right to join a militia, but you don’t really have a right to own a gun for self-defense inside your home, or a right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home.

Those four justices were a big reason why gun owners turned out in huge numbers to vote last November. We knew that if Hillary Clinton was elected, our right to keep and bear arms was likely to be written out of the Constitution: She’d be nominating a justice to replace Antonin Scalia, and she wasn’t about to elevate someone who agreed with Scalia on the importance and the meaning of the Second Amendment. No, Hillary declared NRA members as her “enemy,” and she was ready to “weaponize” the High Court to attack gun owners. 

Instead of an anti-gun zealot nominating one of her own, Americans saw Judge Neil Gorsuch nominated by President Donald Trump. Gorsuch would be the fifth vote upholding our right to keep and bear arms in future cases. During his time on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Gorsuch indicated that he takes the right to keep and bear arms seriously. As he told the members of the committee, one of the lessons he learned from Antonin Scalia was that “the judge’s job is to follow the words that are in the law, not replace them with those that aren’t.” We knew that if Hillary Clinton was elected, our right to keep and bear arms was likely to be written out of the Constitution …

Compare that to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which recently decided that the Second Amendment must actually read, “A Well-Regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed—and banning the most common long gun sold in the country today shall not constitute an infringement.” The 9th Circuit has decided that the Second Amendment protects the “right to keep and bear arms, but that doesn’t mean you have a right to carry a firearm for self-defense.” If judges across the country truly followed the words that are in the law, the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court wouldn’t be such a big deal. But because so many members of the judiciary are willing to make up the law as they go along, it’s absolutely critical that Neil Gorsuch take his place on the Supreme Court. 

Gorsuch has been painted by Democrats as a judge who consistently sided against the little guy in case after case, but that’s not what the record shows. Gorsuch followed where the law took him, and in plenty of cases that meant a decision in favor of “the little guy.” Dave Kopel wrote an excellent article tracing Gorsuch’s views on the Second Amendment for America’s 1st Freedom, in which he highlights several cases where Gorsuch came down on the side of the individual and their rights. It’s not just the Second Amendment, either. In Yellowbear v. Lampert, for instance, Gorsuch sided with the plaintiff. Andrew Yellowbear was in prison after murdering his daughter, and sought the use of the prison sweat lodge for religious purposes. The government’s argument was that the cost of additional security to transport Yellowbear to the sweat lodge was too high and “unduly burdensome.” Andrew Yellowbear is hardly a sympathetic figure. In fact, the reason for the increased security was because of the threats made against Yellowbear by other inmates. Yet as Judge Gorsuch pointed out in his decision, the law tells us that, even though we may be confined in a prison for horrific crimes, there are some rights that we still maintain, and one of those is the right to exercise our religion. Gorsuch and two other judges on the 10th Circuit ruled that while Yellowbear wasn’t entitled to unlimited visits to the sweat lodge, the prison did have to allow access of some kind. The panel remanded the case back to the District Court with that instruction. The judges didn’t tell the prison, “Here’s what you’re going to do” and lay out a step-by-step guide. They simply told the prison “The law says you can’t do what you’re doing. Go fix it.” That’s not judicial activism. It’s judicial restraint. The Democrats opposed to Gorsuch aren’t just opposed to him as a candidate, they’re opposed to any candidate Donald Trump would nominate without first getting Chuck Schumer’s blessing.

Democrats playing to their political base are on a collision course with senators intent on confirming Gorsuch. The Democrats opposed to Gorsuch aren’t just opposed to him as a candidate, they’re opposed to any candidate Donald Trump would nominate without first getting Chuck Schumer’s blessing. That’s a non-starter for the millions of NRA members and gun owners who cast their votes for Donald Trump in November with the intent of creating a Supreme Court that reads and respects the Second Amendment. Now’s the time for our senators to stand and fight for freedom by confirming Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. It may require rewriting Senate rules, but that’s far better than watching unelected judges rewrite our Constitution. 

Cam Edwards is the host of “Cam & Co.,” which airs live 2-5 p.m. EST on NRATV and midnight EST on SiriusXM Patriot 125. He lives with his family on a small farm near Farmville, Va. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camedwards.

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