Mark Pryor on DC vs. Heller


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BlisteringSilence
February 26, 2008, 07:06 PM
I had written to Senator Pryor a number of weeks ago, when Sen. Hutchason of Texas was circulating a brief to file in the Heller case.

This is his letter:

Dear Mr. blisteringsilence:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court on the matter of gun ownership laws in the District of Columbia. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

During 2006, in the case of District of Columbia vs. Heller 07-290, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declared the District’s firearm law unconstitutional, becoming the first appeals court to overturn a gun control law because of the Second Amendment. District of Columbia vs. Heller involves security guard and D.C. resident Dick Heller, whose application for a permit to keep a handgun in his home was denied by the city.

As you may know, the Supreme Court announced on November 20, 2007, that they will hear the case and determine whether the District of Columbia’s firearm law violates the Constitution. It is my understanding that the arguments will begin on March 18. The Supreme Court’s examination of the Second Amendment’s meaning is monumental in itself, as it is the first examination in over 70 years. I understand that this decision will bear historical significance and may carry broad implications for the Second Amendment rights of all Americans.

Please know I have been and will continue to be a strong supporter of Americans’ Second Amendment rights. During my tenure in the Senate, I have supported legislation to prevent frivolous lawsuits against law-abiding gun dealers, distributors, manufacturers, and their employees. In addition, I supported legislation to prevent the seizure of firearms from law-abiding citizens during times of declared emergencies.

Despite my strong support for the Second Amendment, I have not and will not sign on to amicus curiae briefs to federal courts. I believe it is the Senate’s responsibility to confirm federal judges. We ask these judges not to legislate from the bench but to use their best judgment when interpreting law. Conversely, I do not believe that senators should try to make judicial rulings from the Senate. I feel that writing judges and telling them what to do or how to rule steps across the line between our three separate but equal branches of government. If I disagree with a particular ruling, then I believe the appropriate course of action would be for Congress to act.

In short, Congress should make the laws and courts should interpret the laws, as was intended by the framers of the Constitution. In this case, as with every case, I am willing to let the courts do their work. However, if I feel that the ruling was wrong or infringes upon our Second Amendment rights, it is then that I will pursue a legislative solution. I am a strong supporter of the right of all Americans to keep and bear arms, and I believe these rights, as granted to us under the Second Amendment, are vital to our existence as a nation. From my position in the Senate, I will continue to carefully consider all legislation that might affect these rights.

Thank you again for sharing your views. I welcome your input. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my office again in the future.


Sincerely, Mark Pryor


I'm still trying to figure out what kind of sidestepping he's doing here. I know he's under pressure from citizens of Arkansas, as he's allegedly more conserative than our other Senator, Blanche Lincoln, and she signed the brief.

My pro-2a and pro-states rights and pro-checks and balances beliefs are battling in my head right now. Help me calm them.

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Cougfan2
February 26, 2008, 07:17 PM
I actually agree with the guy. You can't be against legislating from the bench and at the same time be OK with Congress interpreting the Constitution. I think it was a carefully thought out response.

Ed Ames
February 26, 2008, 07:23 PM
Sounds like a good response except for the "as granted to us under the Second Amendment". The "bill of rights" does not grant rights... our system is "what is not forbidden is allowed" and the BoR only enumerates some specific rights without grant or denial of others. I'd take him to task for that but thank him for his time otherwise.

Wineoceros
February 26, 2008, 07:46 PM
"I feel that writing judges and telling them what to do or how to rule steps across the line between our three separate but equal branches of government."
I wonder if he feels the same way about publicly calling on that other seperate but equal branch - the Executive - regarding how to act when it exercises its Constitutional powers.

rollback88
February 26, 2008, 07:47 PM
Hmmm. That would be the first thing I've agreed with him on.

Of course, he's not going to stir up too much. His daddy was a great teacher on how to have a looong career in the Senate.

--jcd

ilbob
February 28, 2008, 07:06 PM
I don't agree with his thinking on why senators shouldn't submit amicus briefs but if he truly believes that, I can accept it as a good enough reason.

Robert Hairless
February 28, 2008, 07:40 PM
Seems like a reasonable position to me. Perhaps he should speak with the Solicitor General and explain why the Executive Branch should not have sent an amicus brief to SCOTUS either. Then we can have a system of checks and balances instead of a free for all.

Wineoceros
February 28, 2008, 07:57 PM
Perhaps he should speak with the Solicitor General and explain why the Executive Branch should not have sent an amicus brief to SCOTUS either. Then we can have a system of checks and balances instead of a free for all.
Yeah. That'd be consistent with...

"I feel that writing judges and telling them what to do or how to rule steps across the line between our three separate but equal branches of government."

Replace "judges" above with "executives" and see how it plays back.

BTR
March 7, 2008, 09:50 AM
Pryor supported the AWB. He gave me some nonsense about his support for hunting when I wrote him about it. :barf:

rocinante
March 7, 2008, 02:19 PM
Sounds like B.S. to me. Everyone and their brother lobbies everyone else. From day one each branch has tried through any means necessary to influence the other. No senator or president has ever given a fire and brimstone speech telling the S.C. EXACTLY what they think before? What he says sounds reasonable and maybe that is the way it should be but to me just sounds like a dodge to hide his true objections to the brief. The brief carried no more legal weight than the other briefs it does express the opinion of supposedly highly respected influential citizens.

sacp81170a
March 7, 2008, 02:29 PM
Complete bunkum, b.s., booshwa.

In short, Congress should make the laws and courts should interpret the laws, as was intended by the framers of the Constitution.

Uh, not so. To wit:

"Article III
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."

So, the Federal Courts, except for SCOTUS, are completely creatures of Congress. Says so right there.

From Section III:

"In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

And appellate jurisdiction of the Federal Courts, except in certain circumstances, is completely up to Congress.

Methinks Senator Pryor needs to reread his Constitution. Either that or he ain't workin' from the same one I'm reading. :barf:

BlisteringSilence
March 7, 2008, 06:47 PM
"Article III
Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."

So, the Federal Courts, except for SCOTUS, are completely creatures of Congress. Says so right there.

What is says there is that the inferior courts (which we know as the federal court system) are established by the Congress, not regulated by it. The congress creates the courts and funds them, but there is no way that the founders intended the Congress to be capable of influencing the court's decisions.

While I don't necessarily agree with Senator Pryor's decision to not sign the letter, if this is his belief, I am not going to fault him for it.

ilbob
March 7, 2008, 06:56 PM
I think there is a difference in an individual congressman or senator lobbying for a specific verdict in a specific case, and congress as a whole deciding what areas of the law it is appropriate for the courts to be reviewing after an initial decision is handed down by a court.

Now if a group of congressman and/or senators wants to make a public statement about what they think a court decision should be, I am not offended at all by that.

sacp81170a
March 7, 2008, 08:56 PM
What is says there is that the inferior courts (which we know as the federal court system) are established by the Congress, not regulated by it. The congress creates the courts and funds them, but there is no way that the founders intended the Congress to be capable of influencing the court's decisions.

"the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make."

Uh, yeah, I think the Founders did intend for Congress to be capable of reining in the courts. Just because they don't doesn't mean the power doesn't exist. Pryor is making use of a convenient fiction (lie) when he says the Founding Fathers didn't want Congress to influence the courts. I'll grant that the Constitution doesn't say anything about amicus briefs, but to say the Congress doesn't or shouldn't control the courts and to cite the framers of the Constitution as your source is to perpetuate the myth (lie). I'd respect him more if he just claimed the position as his own opinion on the matter.

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