The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was once the gold-standard for professional, unbiased law enforcement, with the exploits of federal agents and U.S. attorneys in battling crime, terrorism, and discrimination a source of pride and reassurance to Americans across the political spectrum.
Joe Biden, however, appears determined to undermine that reputation and tradition with nominees for senior DOJ positions whose credentials are rooted in activism, rather than a commitment to impartial justice. One example is Vanita Gupta, Biden’s pick for associate attorney general. Last Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 11 along strictly partisan lines on the advancement of the controversial nominee. Because of Senate rules, her nomination could still advance to the Senate floor, where it’s possible she could be appointed solely with Democrat support.
That sort of partisan steamrolling for a high-level position in the national administration of justice should concern anyone who values the rule of law, as opposed to the exploitation of the justice system for political ends. But gun owners should be especially wary, given Gupta’s public statements denouncing the NRA and judges who have issued pro-gun rulings, as well as her advocacy for gun control and for suggesting that “implicit bias” clouds Americans’ judgment in assessing danger for purposes of legal firearm use.
As Sen. John Cornyn pointed out in written questions to Gupta in relation to her nomination, she has referred to the 5 million-plus member NRA as an “extremist advocacy organization.” When squarely confronted with that statement and asked if she stuck by it, Gupta deflected and refused to answer directly. Instead, she generically asserted she would “bring no prejudgments about the National Rifle Association or any other organization to my duty to fully, fairly, and impartially enforce the law.”
Yet her record of “prejudgments” on the Second Amendment and firearm related issues is well-established. In her career in leftwing activism, Gupta has repeatedly attacked judicial nominees for belonging to the NRA and for showing deference to the Second Amendment on issues such as concealed carry, bans on semiautomatic firearms, magazine capacity limits, and private firearm transfer bans. She characterized one nominee’s opposition to semi-automatic firearm bans as a state senator as “dangerous and irresponsible.” And she even faulted another nominee for defending, as a private lawyer, firearm manufacturer Glock against a product liability claim for its iconic Model 17, one of the most popular and field-tested law enforcement and self-defense firearms in the U.S.
Gupta has also openly-advocated for additional federal gun control in numerous tweets, speeches, op-eds, and letters to lawmakers. She has not only formed and promoted her own prejudgments on gun control, she has sought to influence the opinions of others in positions of authority and influence. There is no convincing or even plausible way she can deny this long record of anti-gun activism would not carry over into how she performs her duties as one of the leading law enforcement officials in the nation.
Fortunately, the success of Gupta’s nomination is not assured. Moderate Democrat senators may have their own concerns about advancing such a controversial nominee on purely partisan lines.