Elena Kagan, solicitor general of the United States, acquitted herself superbly before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearings.
What does that mean? It means she basically told the senators nothing that would reveal how she will vote. Of course, we know she will vote as a liberal would and should.
Conservatives, while upset with her liberal orientation, are resigned to her confirmation because she is replacing a liberal — Justice John Paul Stevens — and therefore would not tip the Supreme Court in a liberal direction.
To pacify her questioners, Kagan paid proper lip service to the doctrine of giving great respect to legal precedents.
The New York Times in an editorial this past week pointed out how Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her confirmation hearings had similarly reassured the questioning senators.
The editorial stated, “Sonia Sotomayor said last year that she understood the individual right to bear arms had been determined by the Supreme Court in 2008, but this week she joined a blistering dissent that said the 2008 decision was wrong.”
Most gun control supporters — and I am one — are distressed with the huge victories that the National Rifle Association has had before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Congress, on the right to possess guns, particularly handguns.
Most New Yorkers probably don’t know that it is relatively easy in New York State, except for criminals and the mentally impaired, to obtain a permit to keep a handgun in one’s home or place of business.
New Yorkers don’t have the right to carry that gun outside of their home or business; to do that, one needs a special carriage permit which requires in New York City the consent of the New York City police commissioner under the Sullivan Law which goes back to 1911.
When Washington, D.C., and Chicago banned all handguns and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled on that issue, it decided that such total bans violated the Second Amendment.
The Supreme Court has not ruled on New York state’s law requiring a special permit for carrying a handgun through the streets. Undoubtedly, such limitations will ultimately come before the court. I would be shocked if the court were to strike that limitation down.
But this is an unpredictable court that has shown that it is capable of consistently surprising us.
The most recent shock was its decision, as the Times described it, “to allow unlimited corporate spending in elections.” The Times neglected to mention that the court’s decision also allowed unlimited spending by unions, as well.
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