Federal appeals court Judge Sonia Sotomayor has over the years developed what some experts are calling a ‘troubling’ record on Second Amendment issues.
In January, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court joined an opinion, Maloney v. Cuomo, that ruled that the Second Amendment does not apply against state and local governments, according to Reason magazine.
The case dealt with a New York ban on various weapons, including nunchucks. After last year's District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down DC's handgun ban, attention turned to whether state and local gun control laws might violate the Second Amendment as well.
"It is settled law," Sotomayor and the Second Circuit held, "that the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose on this right."
But that Second Circuit ruling ran counter to a Ninth Circuit decision last month in Nordyke v. King, which upheld the Second Amendment as a deeply held right embodied in the Constitution that transcends state law.
“We therefore conclude that the right to keep and bear arms is "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition," the Ninth Circuit ruling said. “Colonial revolutionaries, the Founders, and a host of commentators and lawmakers living during the first one hundred years of the Republic all insisted on the fundamental nature of the right. It has long been regarded as the ‘true palladium of liberty.’ Colonists relied on it to assert and to win their independence, and the victorious Union sought to prevent a recalcitrant South from abridging it less than a century later. The crucial role this deeply rooted right has played in our birth and history compels us to recognize that it is indeed fundamental, that it is necessary to the Anglo-American conception of ordered liberty that we have inherited. We are therefore persuaded that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment and applies it against the states and local governments.”
The contrasting opinions suggest that the issue is almost certainly going to go before the high court in the near future. What role might soon-to-be Justice Sotomayor play? Gun rights scholar and Independence Institute Research Director Dave Kopel told Reason that Sotomayor's opinions "demonstrate a profound hostility to Second Amendment rights. If we follow Senator Obama's principle that Senators should vote against judges whose views on legal issues are harmful, then it is hard to see how someone who supports Second Amendment rights could vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor."
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