By Larry Keane
The unauthorized leak of a draft abortion opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court has Democrats up in arms (again) about packing the U.S. Supreme Court. This isn’t a new argument and one gun-control advocates publicly pitched before.
Senators are openly calling for court-packing again and that’s before the Supreme Court has rendered a final opinion on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen or finalized the opinion of the leaked abortion draft decision. Even before the nine justices heard arguments on the New York case challenging the states’ arbitrary and restrictive “may issue” concealed carry permit criteria, there were calls for court-packing.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) filed an amicus brief in NYSRPA v. New York supporting restrictive gun control but took arguments beyond supporting the law with threats to upend the court’s structure. That case was ultimately declared “moot” by the Supreme Court after New York City altered the law to avoid the Court striking down the law.
“Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal,” Sen. Whitehouse wrote.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) led a 2019 letter excoriating court-packing threats and urged the justices to render opinions based on Constitutional interpretations, not public opinion polls. The letter was signed by 53 Republican senators.
“It’s one thing for politicians to peddle these ideas in Tweets or on the stump,” Sen. McConnell wrote. “But the Democrats’ amicus brief demonstrates that their court-packing plans are more than mere pandering. They are a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rights of all Americans.”
It’s a fool’s errand to predict a Supreme Court ruling, but the justices’ questions offered insight that they appeared to be wary of New York’s subjective qualifications to obtain concealed carry permits. The decision will be the most significant on gun rights since the 2010 McDonald decision.
That’s got gun control groups acting like spoiled school children. They’re throwing fits. They too want to change the court’s structure. Several of these groups joined together for a discussion on how to change the rules and rig the system against law-abiding Americans and their God-given right to self-defense.
Hiding the Agenda
Igor Volsky, Executive Director of Guns Down America, Matt Post of March for Our Lives, Demand Justice’s Tamara Brummer and U.S. Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) joined together for a closed-door discussion about their desire to pack the Supreme Court. They want more gun control-friendly justices that would legislate from the bench to restrict rights. The webinar was closed to the public, forcing any tuning in to register their personal information ahead of time. There is no public video of the discussion anywhere.
Brummer believes the Supreme Court has, “always been a political battleground, and now liberals need to push for more seats that will protect progressive policy advancements,” like restrictive gun control. Matt Post exclaimed from the National Mall, “Their right to own an assault rifle does not outweigh our right to live.” True assault rifles, or automatic weapons used by the military, have been severely restricted for civilian ownership since 1934 and haven’t been commercially made or sold since 1986.
Volsky is an ardent gun control supporter. He’s not only affiliated with Guns Down America but is also vice president of the far-left think tank Center for American Progress. He fired off a Twitter meltdown when U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez struck down California’s 30-year-old ban on Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) in his ruling on Miller v. Bonta last year.
Rep. Jones has never met a gun control proposal he didn’t like. He so strongly supports court-packing that he’s introduced legislation, along with fellow gun control Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), to expand the court in order to pack it.
“To restore power to the people, we must expand the Supreme Court,” Rep. Jones said. He must’ve forgotten the people elected the president who nominated justices on the current court, including the previous two Democratic presidents who filled vacancies. That doesn’t include the Highest Court’s newest justice, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was recently nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will be seated later this summer once Justice Stephen Breyer formally retires from the bench.
Voting and Buying
These groups and elected officials aren’t just ignoring their oath to defend the Constitution, they’re ignoring their obligation to represent “We the People.” More than 40 million firearms were purchased in 2020 and 2021, including more than 14 million by first-time buyers. The firearm buying boom has meant 33 months straight of 1 million or more guns purchased. This includes historic numbers of minorities and more than 40 percent of first-time gun-buyers were women who feel “empowered” by taking up their Second Amendment rights.
Poll after poll shows Americans reject restrictions on their right to own a gun, including historic low levels of support for more gun control. It’s why federal legislation, including Rep. Jones’s court-packing gun control bill, has largely stalled and President Joe Biden is drawing the ire of gun control groups disappointed with his failure to accomplish more. It’s why his first nominee for Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), David Chipman, failed to earn even the support of Democrats in the U.S. Senate and had his nomination withdrawn.
Volsky’s gun control court-packing expansion discussion demonstrated why their effort is a failing one. Preaching to the gun control choir won’t do anything to make neighborhoods safer or stop criminals from committing their crimes.
Democratic President Barack Obama famously stated, “Elections have consequences.” The rules are the same for everyone and presidents get to nominate justices to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court when they arise. Americans are embracing their Second Amendment rights by the millions and gun control groups are losing their argument. Because of that, they’re now clamoring to change the rules.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.