Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Trump’s Federal Court Appointments Will Help to Preserve Our Rights for a Generation

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump’s Federal Court Appointments Will Help to Preserve Our Rights for a Generation

Government doesn’t always move quite as fast as we’d like. In recent years, members of both major political parties have complained about historic Congressional inaction. The requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act can slow down executive branch efforts to repeal or amend regulations. While it can be frustrating when our friends are in power, the more deliberative aspects of our system of government are an important check that preserves our rights when circumstances are less advantageous.

However, an important avenue where President Donald Trump and our friends in the Senate have been able to move swiftly to push a pro-gun rights agenda is by exercising the president’s constitutional authority to appoint federal judges. Once confirmed, federal judges serve for life “during good Behaviour.” 

On May 18, 2016, candidate Trump signaled to the American voter that he understood the importance of the federal judiciary when he broke with convention and released a list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Exit polling data from 2016 observed that Trump’s emphasis on sound judicial appointments was a crucial factor in his victory. An NBC News poll showed that 27 percent of Trump voters cited Supreme Court appointments as their most important factor in voting, while only 19 percent of Clinton voters answered likewise. Moreover, 22 percent of all voters listed Supreme Court appointments as their most important factor in voting, up from seven percent in 2008.

When Trump took office he inherited 114 federal court vacancies from Barack Obama. In contrast, there were only 54 vacancies when Obama was inaugurated and 81 when George W. Bush began his presidency. Through November, nine of Trump’s U.S. Courts of Appeals nominees had been confirmed. Obama only notched three in his first year in office. In early November, before Trump secured the ninth confirmation, the New York Times lamented that the first eight was “the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon.” 

Even with Trump’s early victories, as of mid-December, the number of vacancies had swelled to 144. This number included 119 positions on the U.S. District Courts and 17 on the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Eager to fill these seats, as of press time Trump had nominated 44 individuals to serve; 34 to the district courts and 7 to the appellate bench. 

When Trump took office he inherited 114 federal court vacancies from Barack Obama. In contrast, there were only 54 vacancies when Obama was inaugurated and 81 when George W. Bush began his presidency.

Trump has stated that he plans to make the most of his historic opportunity. During an October 17 news conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the president explained, “many [nominees] are in the pipeline,” adding, “we will set records in terms of the number of judges.”

Moreover, Trump has shown that he is dedicated to nominating individuals with a proper understanding of our Second Amendment. This began with Trump’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who, less than three months after taking the bench, signed a blistering dissent of the Court’s decision not to take up a challenge to California’s may-issue carry regime. Trump has shown similar care in lower court appointments.

This fact has not gone unnoticed by gun rights opponents. Upon discovering that one of Trump’s district court nominees had written a 2013 blog post in support of NRA and the Second Amendment, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) took the nominee to task for his pro-gun views. In her written questions for the nominee, Feinstein all but demanded that the nominee pledge to recuse himself from “cases involving the NRA or where the NRA had taken a position.” Feinstein also quizzed the nominee on why he became a member of NRA.

Gun control proponents aren’t wrong to be concerned about a pro-Second Amendment shift in the federal judiciary. Following the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court decisions, the lower federal courts have played a significant role in interpreting the scope of the Second Amendment. Until the Supreme Court abandons its current reluctance take up Second Amendment cases, appellate court rulings on issues such as Right-to-Carry and commonly owned semiautomatic firearms will continue to be the law in their various districts.

Beyond strictly Second Amendment issues, federal judges are also asked to rule on the administrative state’s interpretation and enforcement of federal statute. Judges with a more comprehensive understanding of our rights should be more apt to remedy executive branch overreaches of the kind perpetrated by Obama and former-Attorney General Eric Holder.

At any given moment, NRA is involved in numerous federal court cases that run the gamut of issues that affect gun owners, from defending the Right-to-Carry, to protecting gun owners’ due process rights and privacy, to fighting illegitimate restrictions on the use of traditional ammunition. It’s impossible to know all of the federal litigation tomorrow will bring, but by prioritizing filling federal court vacancies, Trump and our Senate friends are helping to put gun rights supporters in a position to succeed for decades to come.

Chris W. Cox

BY Chris W. Cox

NRA-ILA Executive Director

Follow This Contributor

Chris W. Cox has served as the executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of NRA, since 2002. As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversees eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.

TRENDING NOW
Outback Steakhouse: No Rights, Just Rules

News  

Friday, February 9, 2018

Outback Steakhouse: No Rights, Just Rules

The word “Outback” used to conjure images of Australia’s tenacious frontier spirit; of hunters, ranchers, and other adventurers who carved out a harsh existence from an unforgiving land.

Monday, June 23, 2014

ALERT: Governor Rick Scott Makes History Signing 5 Pro-gun Bills

On, Friday, June 20, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed 5 pro-gun bills into law.  A strong supporter of the Second Amendment, Governor Rick Scott has now signed more pro-gun bills into law -- in ...

What the Media Doesn’t Want You to Know: Enactment of National Reciprocity is Closer than Ever!

News  

Friday, February 2, 2018

What the Media Doesn’t Want You to Know: Enactment of National Reciprocity is Closer than Ever!

Anybody who is exposed to the so-called news media these days faces a barrage of bewildering and often outlandish claims. “Breaking news” cycles through the public eye with such frequency and speed that knowing what’s ...

New Hampshire: Governor Sununu Signs Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Into Law!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Hampshire: Governor Sununu Signs Constitutional/Permitless Carry Bill Into Law!

Today, in a private signing ceremony, Governor Chris Sununu signed Senate Bill 12 into law.  Similar legislation had been vetoed by former Governor Maggie Hassan for two years in a row, but thanks to your active involvement, ...

Ten Reasons Why States Should Reject "Assault Weapon" and "Large" Magazine Bans

News  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ten Reasons Why States Should Reject "Assault Weapon" and "Large" Magazine Bans

In the late 1980s, gun control groups realized that they had failed in their original goal—getting handguns banned1—and began campaigning against semi-automatic firearms they called “assault weapons,” most of which are rifles. As an anti-gun ...

Washington: Gun Bills to Be Heard Next Week

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Washington: Gun Bills to Be Heard Next Week

On February 9th, the Washington state Senate passed Senate Bill 6298 to expand the category of persons stripped of their Second Amendment rights and it is now scheduled for a hearing in the House Judiciary ...

Gun Laws  

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Citizen's Guide To Federal Firearms Laws - Summary

A Citizen`s Guide to Federal Firearms Laws A summary of federal restrictions on the purchase, sale, possession, and transportation of firearms and ammunition. Caution: Firearm laws are subject to frequent change and court interpretation.

NRA Endorses Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate

News  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

NRA Endorses Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate

Fairfax, Va.— On behalf of our five million members across the country, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) today endorsed Marco Rubio for the office of U.S. Senate in the Florida Republican primary.

Oklahoma: House Committee to Consider Permitless Carry Legislation

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Oklahoma: House Committee to Consider Permitless Carry Legislation

Tomorrow, the Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee is scheduled to consider House Bill 2951.

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.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -
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.