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Why Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee Would Be a Disaster For the Second Amendment

Earlier today, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, a replacement to the late Antonin Scalia.

There is one particular case which shows the stark contrast between the conservative Scalia and less-than-moderate Garland when it comes to the Second Amendment. In fact, the pair had completely opposing viewpoints on a case that affirmed the right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

Via the National Review:

But Garland has a long record, and, among other things, it leads to the conclusion that he would vote to reverse one of Justice Scalia’s most important opinions, D.C. vs. Heller, which affirmed that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Back in 2007, Judge Garland voted to undo a D.C. Circuit court decision striking down one of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation.  The liberal District of Columbia government had passed a ban on individual handgun possession, which even prohibited guns kept in one’s own house for self-defense. A three-judge panel struck down the ban, but Judge Garland wanted to reconsider that ruling. He voted with Judge David Tatel, one of the most liberal judges on that court. As Dave Kopel observed at the time, the “[t]he Tatel and Garland votes were no surprise, since they had earlier signaled their strong hostility to gun owner rights” in a previous case. Had Garland and Tatel won that vote, there’s a good chance that the Supreme Court wouldn’t have had a chance to protect the individual right to bear arms for several more years.

As Vox reports, Garland’s actions at the very least suggested he may have “thought the handgun ban was constitutional.”

SCOTUSblog wrote in 2010 about Garland’s decisions:

Garland also notably voted in favor of en banc review of the D.C. Circuit’s decision invalidating the D.C. handgun ban, which the Supreme Court subsequently affirmed.  Garland did not take a formal position on the merits of the case.  But even if he had concluded that the statute was constitutional, that view of the case would have conformed to the widespread view that, under existing Supreme Court precedent, the Second Amendment did not confer a right to bear arms unconnected to service in a militia.

Additionally, Garland voted “to uphold an illegal Clinton-era regulation that created an improvised gun registration requirement.” The registry was a direct violation of a 1968 law in which Congress prohibited federal gun registration mandates.

As Dave Kopel explained back in 2008, Garland “could be counted on not only to oppose Second Amendment rights in general, but even to nullify explicit congressional statutes that protect those rights.”

So when the media portrays Garland as a centrist or moderate, remember this affront to the Second Amendment.

Rusty Weiss

Rusty Weiss is a freelance journalist focusing on the conservative movement and its political agenda. He has been writing conservatively charged articles for several years in the upstate New York area, and his writings have appeared in the Daily Caller, American Thinker,, Big Government, the Times Union, and the Troy Record. He is also Editor of one of the top conservative blogs of 2012, the Mental Recession.

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