President Trump announced last night his decision to nominate U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the empty seat left by the late Antonin Scalia.
“President Trump has made an outstanding choice in nominating Judge Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court, said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA-ILA. “He has an impressive record that demonstrates his support for the Second Amendment. We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, just as it did in confirming him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by a unanimous voice vote.”
Gorsuch has big shoes to fill, but he is well-known for his ardent defense of originalism, an interpretive philosophy also held by Scalia and one that favors a pro-gun interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Originalists believe that the best way to interpret the Constitution is to go back to the framer’s original intent. When faced with a tough constitutional dilemma they ask, “What did the framers of the Constitution mean in this passage?”
When it comes to the Second Amendment, we know that the framers believed in the individual right to keep and bear arms. That’s what allowed them to win the War for Independence, and they knew, as George Mason said, that “to disarm the people… is the most effective way to enslave them.”
As an originalist, Gorsuch will defend the framers’ belief that the American people have a right to own and bear firearms to defend themselves and their liberties.
He did not have the opportunity to hear many Second Amendment cases in his time on the 10th Circuit Court, but one of his most important dissenting opinions included a defense of the Second Amendment.
In 2012 he argued in United States v. Games-Perez that a felon has to know he is a felon and that he possesses a gun to be convicted of a gun crime. “Gun possession is often lawful and sometimes even protected as a matter of constitutional right,” he said in his opinion.
In another opinion, as the NRA-ILA notes, Gorsuch reaffirmed his belief in the individual right to keep and bear arms: “the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms and may not be infringed lightly,” he said.
Gorsuch was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush on May 10, 2006.
His background is filled with “sterling legal and academic credentials,” according to the Supreme Court of the United States Blog. He was a Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford, graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for prominent conservative judges, and was a high-ranking official in the Bush Justice Department before his judicial appointment.
Gorsuch is also relatively young for a Supreme Court justice (he will turn 50 this year), which would allow him to defend Second Amendment rights on the highest court in the land for at least the next generation.