Sotomayor Ducks Questions About Gun Rights


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peyton
July 16, 2009, 09:06 AM
I saw the article this morning, I thought it was a pretty good analysis of the supreme court nomination proceedings. Most importantly was the dancing around the issue of self defense with a firearm. Therefore I wanted to post this. I feel that the majority of people feel firearms only legimate use is hunting, nothing else. The threads keep getting closed because of the political comments. Whether it was a republican or democrat party that nominated her is not the issue. The issue how does the american public and us on this forum react to these issues.

Sotomayor Ducks Questions About Gun Rights

http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/07/16/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5163548.shtml


Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor refused on Wednesday to elaborate on her views about firearms regulations and the Second Amendment, saying she would "make no prejudgments" about future firearms-related cases.

President Obama's first nominee to the high court did say that she believed Americans do not currently enjoy a fundamental right to bear arms, which echoes her two previous rulings on the topic as an appeals court judge.

Existing Supreme Court decisions indicate the Second Amendment only limits "the actions the federal government could take with respect to the possession of firearms" and can't be used to strike down broad state laws, Sotomayor told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right from overreaching federal laws (and in federal enclaves like the District of Columbia). The case is called D.C. v. Heller.

But the justices chose not to rule on the broader question of whether the Second Amendment's guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms applies to state laws. Attorneys in two cases raising that question -- including an appeal of Sotomayor's January 2009 decision -- have petitioned for Supreme Court review in the last few weeks, and another petition is likely by the end of the summer.

Because Sotomayor has not clarified her position on gun rights, and has declined repeated invitations to do so during this week's Senate hearing, advocacy groups have turned to her written opinions and the president's own record on firearm regulation. (This parallels the abortion question: While Sotomayor parried those questions on Wednesday, the White House had previously reassured liberal groups that she would be a staunch pro-choice vote on the court.)

The results were predictable. The Brady Campaign on Tuesday formally endorsed Sotomayor, saying her opinions show respect "for precedent and for the considered judgments of legislative bodies in protecting communities from gun violence."

And Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, wrote after Tuesday's hearing that: "The Supreme Court is compelled to respect the Second and Fourteenth Amendments and to interpret and apply them correctly. The cases in which Judge Sotomayor and her colleagues have mishandled these issues raise serious questions about her fitness to serve on the highest Court in the land."

So far, the NRA has not formally opposed Sotomayor's nomination, even though past president Sandy Froman has called on NRA members to do so, and other gun rights groups including the Second Amendment Foundation have.

If the NRA chooses to take that step, it could cost Sotomayor some Senate votes, especially from senators in more rural states. (One aspect of this week's hearing worth noting is that liberal Democrats like Patrick Leahy and Russ Feingold have taken pains to stress their support for gun rights.)

Then again, losing a few votes isn't the same as losing the nomination. The Sotomayor hearing continues on Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET with approximately 30 more witnesses, including ex-NRA president Froman, gun rights advocate David Kopel, and Ilya Somin, an assistant professor of law at George Mason University who has written critically about firearm restrictions in the past.


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Addendum: To avoid revealing her own beliefs, Judge Sotomayor has resorted to lectures that seem straight out of law school, at the cost of clarity. Read on for excerpts from her exchange on Wednesday with Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma who is also a medical doctor.

COBURN: Do I have a right to personal self-defense?

SOTOMAYOR: I'm trying to think if I remember a case where the Supreme Court has addressed that particular question. Is there a constitutional right to self-defense? And I can't think of one. I could be wrong, but I can't think of one.

SOTOMAYOR: Generally, as I understand, most criminal law statutes are passed by states. And I'm also trying to think if there's any federal law that includes a self-defense provision or not. I just can't...

COBURN: But do you have an opinion, or can you give me your opinion, of whether or not in this country I personally, as an individual citizen, have a right to self-defense?

SOTOMAYOR: I -- as I said, I don't know.

COBURN: I'm talking about your...

SOTOMAYOR: I don't know if that legal question has been ever presented.

COBURN: I wasn't asking about the legal question. I'm asking about your personal opinion.

SOTOMAYOR: But that is sort of an abstract question with no particular meaning to me outside of...

COBURN: Well, I think that's what American people want to hear, Your Honor, is they want to know. Do they have a right to personal self-defense?...

Those are the kind of things people would like for us to answer and would like to know, not how you would rule or what you're going to rule, but -- and specifically what you think about, but just yes or no. Do we have that right?

SOTOMAYOR: I know it's difficult to deal with someone as a -- like a judge who's so sort of -- whose thinking is so cornered by law.

COBURN: I know. It's hard.

SOTOMAYOR: Could I...

COBURN: Kind of like a doctor. I can't quit using doctor terms.

SOTOMAYOR: Exactly. That's exactly right, but let me try to address what you're saying in the context that I can, OK, which is what I have experience with, all right, which is New York criminal law, because I was a former prosecutor. And I'm talking in very broad terms.

But, under New York law, if you're being threatened with eminent death or very serious injury, you can use force to repel that, and that would be legal. The question that would come up, and does come up before juries and judges, is how eminent is the threat...

If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend...

COBURN: You'll have lots of 'splainin' to do.

SOTOMAYOR: I'd be in a lot of trouble then. But I couldn't do that under a definition of self-defense. And so, that's what I was trying to explain in terms of why, in looking at this as a judge, I'm thinking about how that question comes up and how the answer can differ so radically, given the hypothetical facts before you.

COBURN: Yes. You know...

SOTOMAYOR: Or not the...

COBURN: The problem is is we think -- we doctors think like doctors. Hard to get out of the doctor skin. Judges thing like judges. Lawyers think like lawyers.

And what American people want to see is inside and what your gut says. And part of that's why we're having this hearing.

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Old Fuff
July 16, 2009, 09:52 AM
Sometimes a person makes things clear by what they say. Other times it becomes equally clear by what they refuse to say. Anyone who thinks that Obama would submit a candidate with a pro-gun rights outlook is dreaming.

In past discussions Sotomayor has pointed out that the Heller decision specifically allowed "reasonable regulation" of the Second Amendment's right of the people to keep and bear arms. You can be sure she will pick up that ball and run with it. It is also probable she will oppose incorporation, if or when that issue comes before the Court. The only good news is that we have one leftist replacing another one.

Lone_Gunman
July 16, 2009, 10:05 AM
I don't understand why we are talking about this.

Does someone here actually think Obama would have nominated someone who was pro-2A?

There is no reason, in my mind, to question whether Sotomayor is pro or anti. She would not have been nominated if she had not had the same beliefs as Obama.

Resisting her is a pointless waste of time and resources. Her confirmation is inevitable. NRA realizes this, and has quite appropriately decided not to waste its valuable time and resources fighting a battle that cannot be one.

Personally, I do not think she is as bad as she could have been, and would rather see her nominated, than take a chance that Obama would pick someone worse if she is rejected.

So, Sotomayor is anti gun. In other surprising news, a doctor was seen playing golf, and a cop was seen eating a donut.

John E.
July 16, 2009, 10:24 AM
But, under New York law, if you're being threatened with eminent death or very serious injury, you can use force to repel that, and that would be legal. The question that would come up, and does come up before juries and judges, is how eminent is the threat...

If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend...

Is she incorrect here?

Lone_Gunman
July 16, 2009, 10:26 AM
I do not know the specifics of NY law, but in general, I would say her statements regarding use of force in the previous post are morally correct.

Col. Plink
July 16, 2009, 10:43 AM
Any nominee to the Supreme Court that cannot affirm on record that s/he believes in the fundamental right of American citizens to self-defense is a menace to every reason this nation was founded and every principle used to legitimize its authority.

The United States was founded to protect individuals from ANY threat to their liberty from individuals, groups, and MOST ESPECIALLY GOVERNMENT.

Sav .250
July 16, 2009, 11:03 AM
The only way we will know her thoughts about anything is "after" she puts the rob on and takes a seat at the table, (A figure of speech.) Confirmation is a given.

musick
July 16, 2009, 11:03 AM
But, under New York law, if you're being threatened with eminent death or very serious injury, you can use force to repel that, and that would be legal. The question that would come up, and does come up before juries and judges, is how eminent is the threat...

If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend...

Is she incorrect here?

The first section sounds pretty good. I think she is correct.

But she is TOTALLY incorrect in the second section. Read it carefully, "...If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal..."

Well thats the biggest "DUH!" Ive ever read. That would be murder Sonia!

She was been instructed to only answer questions in shades of grey and brown only. She is in unless she has a total breakdown, which I really dont think will happen.

ants
July 16, 2009, 11:14 AM
She was been instructed to only answer questions in shades of grey and brown only. No, she didn't need to be instructed on that. It's a skill she already has.

She is answering the way almost any Supreme Court nominee -- in fact almost any nominee to any federal position -- would answer every question.


Coburn makes the interesting point that doctors talk like doctors, judges like judges, lawyers like lawyers. Did we truly expect Sotomayer to be any different?

musick
July 16, 2009, 11:28 AM
No, she didn't need to be instructed on that. It's a skill she already has.

Well, I guess it could be a recently acquired skill. But she didnt have it back in 2001 when speaking at the University of California Berkeley law school;

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life,"

This is something she has said on multiple occasions. Most recently in 2005, IIRC.

Vibe
July 16, 2009, 11:30 AM
The only factual answer should have been a simple "Yes - you do have a right to self defense." Whether the Constitution recognises it or not is irrelevant. Just as the Constitution does not "Grant" any of the other rights, nor claim to enumerate all of them.

Col. Plink
July 16, 2009, 04:29 PM
EXACTLY! Rights are not created or granted by governments, THEY EXIST DE FACTO, and governments are either legitimate or illegitimate in so far as they exost to protect them or not!

Lone_Gunman
July 16, 2009, 05:02 PM
I don't think she answered that question in the philosophical abstract. I think the question she answered was whether or not you had a right to self defense under US law... which is all that really matters anyway. Unless you think God is going to come down and defend the rights he has given you, then it doesn't really matter in a practical way whether the rights are god given, or government granted.

I think the tide has turned though, and I think that a few key Republicans are going to vote for her, including Lindsey Graham. In the end, I expect her to get 3/4 of the Senate to vote for her confirmation. It will be another huge victory for Obama, and a loss for the Republicans who vote against her.

Vibe
July 16, 2009, 05:27 PM
I don't think she answered that question in the philosophical abstract. I think the question she answered was whether or not you had a right to self defense under US law... which is all that really matters anyway. Unless you think God is going to come down and defend the rights he has given you, then it doesn't really matter in a practical way whether the rights are god given, or government granted.


Considering that she is up for the job of interpreting the meaning of the Constitution, one would hope that she would answer the questions as it pertains to that job - or at least in the same maner as the people who wrote the thing.

She want's to stand behind precident, her record clearly demonstrates this. Show me exactly where it says that Judicial Precident shall be considered as the Supreme Law of the Land.

Lone_Gunman
July 16, 2009, 05:32 PM
You may be right, unfortunately, it does not matter.

robphillips
July 16, 2009, 05:38 PM
You shouldn't have to interpret the constitution. It means what it says. Interpretation is the whole problem.

MX26
July 16, 2009, 05:47 PM
"God given", inalienable rights are the MOST important rights by far. It is the responsibility of our government to make laws based on our inalienable rights to protect and preserve them.

This should be a government's most important objective.

Tyranny is when government strays from this duty in favor of trampling rights in the interest of gaining power and control.

Lone_Gunman
July 16, 2009, 06:28 PM
"God given", inalienable rights are the MOST important rights by far.

I completely agree, in the abstract. However, on a day to day basis, if the government says you don't have the right to do something, then you don't really have the right, and what God thinks does not really matter.

BENELLIMONTE
July 16, 2009, 07:51 PM
Two things come to comes to mind after watching the confirmation hearings on the C-Span; Jeff Sessions should run for president in 2012 & Sotomayor is a goober!

gunsandreligion
July 17, 2009, 09:28 PM
If I go home, get a gun, come back and shoot you, that may not be legal under New York law because you would have alternative ways to defend... I'm sure glad I dont live in NY.

rbernie
July 17, 2009, 11:19 PM
The last two posts convinced me that we've said all that is useful on this topic.

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