President Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was one of his greatest acts as president.
The president has been an open book when it comes to the people he would consider placing on the highest court in the land. The list he provided the American people, before the 2016 election, was a good one. The president continued that tradition by publicizing a list of potential nominees in anticipation of the 2020 election. When an opening unexpectedly arose on the Supreme Court, the president kept his promise and picked from that list.
The nomination of Judge Barrett showed that the president would not back down from sour grape threats from liberals of court packing and obstruction. It also showed the president’s commitment to those who put Supreme Court justices high on the list of things they want to see from a conservative president. Elections have consequences and the president has the right, with the advice and consent of a Republican controlled Senate, to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court before or after November 3rd during his first term.
Judge Barrett is a proud originalist in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She is a judge who relies on the text of the Constitution, not an activist interpretation, to resolve disputes. On the natural right to possess a firearm for self-defense, as recognized by the U.S. Constitution, the views of Justice Barrett are spot on. The Barrett nomination has raised the important issue of the government’s right to restrict rights contained in the Bill of Rights of non-violent convicted released felons as a result of a dissent she wrote.
The issue of the Second Amendment has been hot lately because many Americans are concerned about the effort to defund the police and the spread of lawlessness throughout the nation. The violence we see every day in Portland, Oregon has put many citizens on notice that they need to consider purchasing a firearm to protect themselves if progressives are successful in disarming the police. The whole reason why our Founders included the natural right of self-defense in the Constitution was to allow people to protect the sovereignty of the place they live and their individual freedoms. Now the question is how far that right extends in the eyes of the high court.
The Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on how far the Second Amendment extends in public places. Professor of Law Nelson Lund of the George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School pointed out in The Hill, “the court has clearly held only that the Constitution protects the right to keep a handgun in one’s home for self-protection. The most practically important questions that have not yet been answered have to do with carrying firearms in public.” Professor Lund dove deeper into the subject in a paper titled, The Future of the Second Amendment in a Time of Lawless Violence, and made the case that during this time of politically inspired riots and “flaccid government responses to mob violence” the Supreme Court, and potential Justice Barrett, may end up resolving “the scope of the constitutional right to bear arms in public.” When you consider that the Supreme Court in the Heller and McDonald case narrowly held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms and is enforceable against state action, the next step is to resolve the issue of how far that right extends into public places.
This is a dangerous time where the idea of the right to self-defense is on voters' minds and not some fuzzy academic discussion. When one sees radicals attacking the private homes of some Americans demanding allegiance to their philosophy, it brings into focus the idea that people should have the freedom to protect themselves if those attacks include violence. Professor Lund raises the issue of whether your Second Amendment right to defend oneself with a firearm extends when one is outside the home and in a public space.
This is an issue that may come before the Supreme Court and Americans need to weigh if they want somebody on the Court who respects the Bill of Rights or a progressive lawyer who considers the Second Amendment a dead letter of law.
Brian Darling is former Counsel and Sr. Communications Director for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).