Amy Coney Barrett might shake things up when she takes her seat in Congress. What will this change mean to gun owners? What shapes Barrett's views on the second amendment.
Barrett on the Second Amendment
Very few things have stirred up more public controversy than Trump’s nomination for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s replacement: Amy Coney Barrett.
It’s looking very likely that Barrett will take Ginsberg’s seat once she’s approved by Congress.
But this opens up major questions about her views on the Second Amendment and how her presence may affect the inevitable confrontation between pro-guns rights activists and anti-gun rights pundits on the stage of the Supreme Court.
Current Legal Landscape
When it came to gun control, the Supreme Court's ultimate opinion was largely unchanged until 2008.
Up until that point, the Supreme Court generally acted as though relatively restrictive gun limitations were appropriate and responsible.
It stated that the Second Amendment’s protections mostly referred to colonial-era militias rather than individual rights to bear arms.
However, the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller changed all that in 2008.
It was here that the Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution as a document that guaranteed an individual’s right to bear arms.
But the Supreme Court didn’t tell lower courts how to protect that right.
For instance, there isn’t any written test for lower courts to use to determine whether a particular case is protected by the Second Amendment are not.
The result? Many lower courts use the restrictions or justifications of a local government to determine gun laws and case outcomes.
Lots of pro-gun activities hate this kind of legislative standard, as it allows local state governments to dilute individual freedoms a little too harshly, in their eyes.
In their opinion (and in the opinion of most responsible firearm owners), history and tradition ought to determine the gun laws of today.
Push for a History-Based Ruling
Since 2008, gun rights activists have followed the example of dissent set by the then circuit-court D.C. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote that courts should assess gun bans and regulations based on history, tradition, and text rather than a relatively arbitrary balancing test.
Since that time, many gun rights activists have brought up history and tradition to protect Second Amendment rights in dozens of lower court cases.
Many of these cases were tentatively pushed to the Supreme Court.
Yet, the justices have since agreed to only take one of those cases in the near future.
Put in simpler terms: the Supreme Court is soon going to see a case making a (relatively) final ruling about whether lower courts should write or enforce gun legislation based on historical precedent or a local test.
How does Barrett fit into all this?
No one is really sure… which is why it’s such a talked about subject. Barrett famously clerked for Judge Scalia (another Supreme Court justice).
When she was nominated for the Supreme Court, she did affirm in public that she shared the judicial philosophy of Scalia, which is crucial since Scalia was the one who wrote the Heller ruling.
This is a great sign for pro-gun advocates.
Barrett also wrote a dissent in a 2019 case prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court.
She argued that nonviolent felons should not always be banned from possessing firearms, using history and tradition as her evidence that the founding fathers wanted to keep guns away from dangerous people only and that some felons didn’t qualify.
Where does this leave us?
Time will tell exactly where Barrett falls on the political scale, though it’s known that she's conservative and friendly to pro-gun advocates.
Her ascension to the Supreme Court will likely be a big boost to gun rights advocates' momentum.
But until the date when the Supreme Court makes a final ruling, we’ll have to wait and see.
What are your thoughts about Barrett's views on the second amendment? Do share them with us in the comments section!