While lots of territories were covered in the epic 11-hours of U.S. Judge Amy Coney Barrett's second day of Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, the subject of guns was touched on repeatedly.
Barrett, a legal scholar and award-winning law professor who currently sits on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, was nominated by President Trump earlier this month to fill the open seat on the nation's highest court left vacant by the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
While participating in 922 cases before the 7th Circuit, she penned a strong dissent last year in the case of Kanter v. Barr, a man who was seeking to have his gun rights restored after losing them due to a non-violent felony conviction, namely mail fraud. Primarily, she went against the majority ruling in the decision and supported Mr. Kanter's Second Amendment claim.
In the 1,800 pages of documentation supplied to the committee, including a 65-page questionnaire, Barrett listed her dissent in Kanter as first in the "10 most significant cases" in which she sat.
"Looking to Founding-era history, I explained that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns, but that power extends only to people who are dangerous, not to nonviolent felons like Mr. Kanter," she stressed.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., pressed Barrett on the Kanter case saying repeatedly that the judge herself had called her impassioned dissent in the case "radical" in court documents. In fact, it was Blumenthal who erred as the word never appears in the 64-page published opinion.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein looped back over Kanter territory, asking Barrett about her dissent. The judge held her ground.
"What I can say is that my opinion and Kanter shows my judicial philosophy," said Barrett. "I spend a lot of time looking at the history of the Second Amendment and Supreme Court cases. The way in which I would approach the review of gun regulations is in the same way. To look very carefully at the text, to look at what the original meaning was. I promise I would come to that with an open mind, applying the law as I can best determine it."
Going past Kanter, Republican Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham asked Barrett if she owned a gun, to which she said "we do own a gun," then went on to confirm that she could fairly decide a Second Amendment case with that in mind. When Graham asked the Supreme Court nominee about the 2008 Heller case, her answer was perhaps enlightening.
"The Heller case was a case decided by the Supreme Court which held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms," going on to say that, "If a state or local government challenged Heller below because a state or local government passed a law contradicting Heller, the Supreme Court would have to take that case once it was appealed all the way up."
Numerous challenges to controversial gun control laws, often citing Heller, have been turned away by the current Roberts court in recent years, over the howls of conservatives on the bench to include Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh.
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a third day of nomination hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett Wednesday and a fourth day on Thursday. It is widely expected that she will be passed out of the Republican-controlled committee next week, clearing the way for a floor vote in the Senate.
Banner image: President Donald J. Trump walks with Judge Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, along the West Wing Colonnade on Saturday, September 26, 2020, following announcement ceremonies in the Rose Garden. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)