If Kavanaugh Crumbles, Trump Could Nominate One Of These Four Supreme Court Candidates
Regardless how you feel or what you believe about the spectacle that unfolded last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the fact is there is a good chance Brett Kavanaugh won’t be confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
The good news for gun-rights advocates is that President Donald Trump has a roster of potential candidates to select from should he need to submit another candidate to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired on July 31.
In November 2017, the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation submitted a “short list” of 25 conservative justices and one U.S. Senator, Republican Mike Lee of Utah, to Trump, who had requested recommendations from both groups.
Although Trump could ultimately anoint a heretofore unknown, here are four speculative “leading” candidates from that list of 25 prospective Supreme Court justices.
- Amy Coney Barrett, 46, of Indiana, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago would be a good “damage control pick to replace a man accused of misogyny,” according to Vox.
A graduate of Notre Dame Law School, Vox notes Coney Barrett’s appeal lies in the fact that she is a conservative woman, although her views on gun rights and the Second Amendment are, at this point, nebulous.
Barrett, only 46, does not have a lengthy track record of rulings to sift through because she was only appointed to the 7th Circuit in 2017 — by Trump.
- Thomas Hardiman, 53, of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, was on the final “short list” when Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
A Georgetown Law School graduate, Hardiman won favor with gun rights advocates for a 2013 dissent that said New Jersey was violating the Second Amendment by requiring those seeking to carry a handgun to demonstrate a “justifiable need” for such a permit.
“The fact that Hardiman has now twice been the metaphorical bridesmaid might mean that Trump isn’t exactly enthusiastic about him — although the president’s sister, fellow 3rd Circuit Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, has reportedly championed Hardiman,” writes Dara Lind of Vox. “But he’s made it so far twice, meaning he’s already passed whatever (possibly insufficient) vetting process the Trump White House has.”
- Raymond Kethledge, 51, of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit since 2008, is a University of Michigan law school graduate spent a couple of years as a Judiciary Committee counsel to former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) before serving as a clerk for Kennedy, the judge who he would replace on the Court.
Kethledge has not yet written a major Second Amendment opinion although he signed onto a 2016 concurring opinion that argued in favor of broader protections for the right to keep and bear arms.
According to Damon Root of Reason.com, that concurrence came in the matter of Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles Tyler wanted to legally purchase a gun federal law prohibited him from doing so because he had been involuntarily committed three decades earlier. Tyler maintained the federal law was unconstitutional because he had a clean bill of mental health, Root writes.
Kethledge concurred with fellow 6th Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing, ”The government has assumed power to deny guns to those who were once institutionalized on the theory that they necessarily remain mentally ill and thus are unprotected. That is wrong because institutionalization and mental illness are not ever-lasting synonyms. Just as the government may not ban protected speech by labeling it obscene, it may not deny a gun to a protected individual by labeling him mentally ill for life.”
- Amul Thapar, 49, of Kentucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Another Trump 2017 appointee, he previously served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky under President George W. Bush.
According to Robert Costa of the Washington Post, Thapar is a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Thapar, who would become the first Asian-American justice on the Supreme Court, does not have a distinctive records in gun-related pilings, but Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law describes him as ”very Scalia-like and Thomas-like.”
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Bloomberg Writes $5M Check to Unseat 15 GOP-Held House Seats
Former New York City Mayor Michael “Big Bucks” Bloomberg’s front group Everytown for Gun Safety is putting up $5 million to finance a digital ad campaign “targeting” 15 House races in the upcoming Nov. 6 midterm elections.
The group announced its plans in a Sept. 25 press release in which it said it had identified 15 suburban House districts outside Atlanta, Kansas City, Miami and Minneapolis, among others on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) “Red to Blue” target list to contribute to.
Right now, Republicans hold a 236-193 advantage. The DCCC’s “Red to Blue” plan is to flip 22 seats in the House to give Democrats their first majority in a decade.
“Suburban swing districts are going to make this election, and gun safety resonates extremely high with suburban voters,” Everytown for Gun Safety John Feinblatt said in the statement. “We’re trying to galvanize new, young and suburban voters in a way that they’ve never been engaged before and meeting them exactly where they are.”
Everytown has already pledged to drop $10 million on four gubernatorial races: Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico — all open races in which Democrats are looking to succeed two-term Republican governors.
The list includes eight districts now occupied by incumbent Republicans who are seeking re-election and seven open, Republican-controlled seats representing districts that include suburbs in metro areas from Seattle to New York City.
The “targeted” pro-Second Amendment Republican incumbents are:
— California House District 48: Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher vs. Democrat Harvey Rouda.
— Colorado HD 6: Republican Rep. Mike Coffman vs. Democrat Jason Crow.
— Georgia HD 6: Republican Rep. Karen Handel vs. Democrat Lucy McBath.
— Kansas HD 3: Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder vs. Democrat Sharice Davids.
— Minnesota HD 3: Republican Rep. Erik Philip Paulsen vs. Democrat Dean Phillips.
— Michigan HD 8: Republican Rep. Mike Bishop vs. Democrat Elissa Slotkin.
— New Jersey HD 3: Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur vs. Democrat Andy Kim
— Virginia HD 10: Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock vs. Democrat Jennifer Wexton.
The seven Republican-controlled seats where incumbents are not running are:
— California House District 49: Republican Diane Harkey vs. Democrat Mike Levin.
— Nevada HD 3: Republican Stephen Sedlmeyer vs. Democrat Selena Torres.
— Nevada HD 4: Republican Cresent Hardy vs. Democrat Steven Horsford
— Florida HD 27: Republican Maria Elvira Salazar vs. Democrat Donna Shalala.
— Michigan HD 11: Republican Lena Epstein vs. Democrat Haley Stevens.
— New Jersey HD 11: Republican Jay Webber vs. Democrat Mikie Sherrill.
— Washington HD 8: Republican Dino Rossi vs. Democrat Kim Schrier.
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Despite Vegas, Parkland Shootings, State Legislatures Adopted Relatively Few Gun Control Laws in 2018
The Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida galvanized students nationwide to prominently protest for gun control legislation, but the only state legislature to respond with significant firearms-related legislation was Florida, which imposed a three-day waiting period to buy firearms and raised the purchasing age from 18 to 21, among other restrictions.
According to the Associated Press, 126 firearms-related bills were passed by state legislatures in 2018, which include banning bump stocks after October’s Las Vegas shooting and “red flag” laws that allow police to temporarily seize guns from individuals showing signs of mental instability or violence.
Below is a “top 10” category breakdown of those 126 bills by Newsday:
— Disqualifies more from owning guns; imposing restrictions or bans on certain people: 15
— Increases criminal penalties for certain gun-related crimes: 12
— Enhances or restricts laws for retired law enforcement officers: 12
— Lifts restrictions or bans to allow more people to carry guns: 10
— Bump-stock ban: 9
— Red flag laws: 8
— Gun surrender or seizure procedures specifying how and when firearms must be surrendered: 6
— Expands or restricts the right to carry a firearm on school property: 6
— Guns in churches: lets people lawfully carry a firearm in those places: 4
— Expands ‘Stand Your Ground,’ allowing people to fire a weapon in self-defense: 4
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IN THE COURTS
Florida Wants 19-Year-Olds in NRA Age Discrimination Suit Named
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi—Jeff Session’s replacement?—is asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the National Rifle Association’s arguments that two 19-year-olds should be able to remain anonymous in their challenge to a state law passed in March that increases the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy rifles in the state.
Bondi’s office Friday filed a 54-page brief urging the court to uphold a district judge’s ruling that “Jane Doe’s” and “John Doe’s” identifies should not be able to keep their identities secret if they participate in the lawsuit.
The Republican-controlled state legislature passed, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott — who is challenging three-term Democrat Bill Nelson in a tightly-contested, potentially most expensive U.S. Senate race in history — signed, a gun-control bill that includes the age restriction following the Valentine’s shooting that killed 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
In the brief, Florida Solicitor General Amit Agarwal cites a federal court rule about requiring parties to be named in lawsuits. They question the NRA’s argument that the teens should remain anonymous because they could face threats and harassment for participating in the case.
“Plaintiffs do not point to any specific facts that establish a ‘real danger of physical harm,’” the state’s attorneys wrote. “The more general risk that litigants who carry the torch for controversial causes will be illegally threatened or harassed by ideological antagonists should be taken seriously; but the proper solution to that problem is to vigorously enforce existing laws prohibiting such misconduct, not to ignore the ‘clear mandate’ of (the federal court rule) and thereby abridge the rights of the press, the public, and other parties to the litigation.”
NRA attorneys in June pointed to concerns about the safety of the teens.
“Jane Doe and John Doe, two 19-year-old Florida citizens, seek to participate in this lawsuit challenging Florida’s age-based ban on the purchase of firearms anonymously, based on the reasonable, documented fear that they would suffer harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence if their true identities and participation in this controversial litigation were made public,” the June brief said. “Under the standard for pseudonymous pleading established by this court’s precedents, Jane and John Doe should clearly be allowed to remain anonymous.”
The NRA has cited threatening and often-vile emails received by longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker in May rejected the request to allow anonymity for Jane Doe and John Doe, though he expressed sympathy for their concerns.
“This court finds that mere evidence of threats and harassment made online is insufficient to outweigh the customary and constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial proceedings,” Walker wrote. “This is especially true where the targets of such threats and harassment are not minors and where the subject at issue does not involve matters of utmost intimacy.”
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