Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

President's Column: The Senate and the Judiciary

Sunday, September 24, 2006

PRESIDENT'S COLUMN

SANDRA S. FROMAN

If we lose control of the Senate, then we lose control of the judicial nomination process, and the Second Amendment is at the mercy of those who think it is a relic of history.

s we approach midterm elections, I'm amazed that one of the most important issues facing us is not more prominent in the public debate. That is the issue of the federal judiciary, and particularly the United States Supreme Court.

Not long ago, we got a stunning reminder that controversial issues often turn on the narrowest of margins. You'll remember that on Dec. 10, 2003, the Supreme Court declared--by one vote--that the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) passed constitutional muster even though that law makes pre-election broadcasts of issue advertising by NRA a crime if those ads refer in any way to a politician running for federal office.

Who sits on a lower federal court can matter very much to you and me—in fact, it can be a matter of life and death.

NRA, of course, filed a lawsuit in federal court the minute the court opened its door after the bill was signed into law. As we rightfully stated, BCRA "eviscerates the core protections of the First Amendment by prohibiting, on pain of criminal punishment, political speech."

In the end, only four Supreme Court justices agreed with us. A majority of the court, consisting of the liberal justices plus one moderate, reached this decision. The judicial conservatives on the court disagreed.

In a blistering dissent, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: "This is a sad day for freedom of speech. Who could have imagined that the same court which, within the past four years, has sternly disapproved restrictions upon such inconsequential forms of expression as virtual child pornography … and sexually explicit cable programming … would smile with favor upon a law that cuts to the heart of what the First Amendment is meant to protect: the right to criticize the government."

What if the court had been considering whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right of American citizens to keep and bear their private arms? What if a majority consisting of activist justices joined by one moderate made that decision? Are you confident that the majority would decide correctly? One thing is for certain, whatever that ruling, it would become the law of the land.

As gun owners dedicated to protecting our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, we have an obligation to make sure that justices appointed to the Supreme Court are men and women who understand and support our constitutional freedoms. And that means making sure that judges appointed to the lower federal courts, which are the "farm teams" for the Supreme Court, are likewise faithful to the text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Who sits on a lower federal court can matter very much to you and me--in fact, it can be a matter of life and death. You remember following Hurricane Katrina when the authorities in New Orleans went door-to-door forcibly confiscating firearms from law-abiding people who only wanted to defend themselves. NRA filed suit to stop the unlawful gun confiscations. It was a federal district judge appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate--Judge Jay Zainey--who ordered the authorities to stop the gun confiscations and return the firearms.

Over the past several years, the obstruction of good judicial nominees by anti-gun Senators Schumer, Kennedy and Feinstein has been a hot issue for our friends in the Bush administration and Congress. We've won Senate seats on this issue and it was a major reason that President Bush won re-election.

And the nation and gun owners have benefited as a result. We now have what appear to be two strict constructionists on the Supreme Court in Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito, and a number of promising new federal appeals judges such as Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and Bill Pryor. America is stronger and our gun rights more secure having such well-qualified, well-grounded jurists on the bench.

It doesn't mean that you or I will always agree with them on every issue. Justices Scalia and Thomas don't always agree and there are plenty of issues on which brilliant jurists can come to different conclusions. The test is whether they reach those conclusions by looking at the plain words of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and federal statutes.

In order to make sure that pro-freedom jurists are appointed and confirmed, we must keep control of the Senate and especially the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviews nominees to the federal bench. Since federal judges serve for life, few actions that the Senate takes are as important.

As the character Pike said in Sam Peckinpah's famous Western film, The Wild Bunch, "We've got to start thinking beyond our guns." To make sure we elect a pro-gun Senate and, of course, a pro-gun House, we must start thinking "beyond our guns," and get active in this election. If we don't, and if we lose control of the Senate, then we lose control of the judicial nomination process and the Second Amendment is at the mercy of those who think it is a relic of history.

TRENDING NOW
ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

On June 7th, ATF published a new notice of proposed rulemaking on its website...

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

Nevada: Gov. Sisolak Signs Gun Ban Bill

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Nevada: Gov. Sisolak Signs Gun Ban Bill

Yesterday, Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 286 into law. AB 286 essentially bans home-building firearms for personal use by prohibiting private individuals from possessing certain unregulated components commonly used by hobbyists to make their own firearms.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Worse Gun Control than the European Union? Biden’s ATF Nominee Supports Extreme Rifle Ban!

News  

Monday, June 7, 2021

Worse Gun Control than the European Union? Biden’s ATF Nominee Supports Extreme Rifle Ban!

David Chipman, supports a ban on commonly-owned semiautomatic firearms like the AR-15...

Everything Comes Back to Gun Control

News  

Monday, June 14, 2021

Everything Comes Back to Gun Control

Gun controllers created a false narrative around semi-automatic rifles...

North Carolina: General Assembly Sends Worshipper Protection Bill to Governor

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

North Carolina: General Assembly Sends Worshipper Protection Bill to Governor

Yesterday, the Senate voted 30-19 to concur with the House on Senate Bill 43, to expand the ability of citizens to defend themselves and their loved ones while attending religious worship. It will now go to Governor Roy ...

Louisiana: Your Action Needed – Contact Your Rep. and Governor Edwards in Support of Constitutional Carry

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Louisiana: Your Action Needed – Contact Your Rep. and Governor Edwards in Support of Constitutional Carry

Currently sitting on the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards, is Louisiana’s Constitutional Carry Legislation, Senate Bill 118. 

Texas: Attorney General Paxton Opposes Latest DoJ/ATF Attack

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Texas: Attorney General Paxton Opposes Latest DoJ/ATF Attack

Yesterday, Attorney General Ken Paxton sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) opposing the recently proposed rule: Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces”.

NRA-ILA Continues to Defend Use of Traditional Ammo

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

NRA-ILA Continues to Defend Use of Traditional Ammo

In April, a federal judge sided with NRA-ILA and Safari Club International and held that hunters’ use of traditional ammo does not violate federal environmental law. Late last month, this decision was appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.