Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh holds extreme views of the Second Amendment and does not share the values of most Americans.
Judge Kavanaugh rejects the idea that courts should consider public safety when judging gun cases.
Dissenting in Heller II, a follow-on case to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, Judge Kavanaugh expressed the radical view that there is an “absence of a role for judicial interest balancing or assessment of costs and benefits of gun regulations.” His record suggests that he would disregard public safety justifications for gun safety laws and instead consider only “text, history, and tradition.”
In the same dissent, he wrote that “semi-automatic rifles have traditionally not been banned and are in common use today, and are thus protected” by the Second Amendment, contradicting four federal circuit court of appeals who have upheld current assault weapon bans. Kavanaugh argues that there is no constitutional difference between assault weapons and handguns and considers modern laws invalid when considered against regulations made in 1791. He concluded his dissent with another argument not shared by mainstream judges: that because most states do not require registration of firearms, it is unconstitutional to have a mandatory registration law.
This radical view would empower judges to strike down life-saving law enforcement tools like domestic violence restraining orders, large capacity magazine regulations, and “red flag” laws because they lack historical support. For example, domestic abuse wasn’t a crime in the United States until the mid-1800.
Judge Kavanaugh’s extremist views have not been adopted by any court since the original Heller decision ten years ago. Even Judge Kavanaugh’s Republican-appointed colleagues on the D.C. Circuit disagree with his interpretation of the Second Amendment. His record suggests that he will trample states rights by invalidating state laws regulating the carrying of concealed firearms and weaken the barriers for legally prohibited persons like domestic abusers from accessing guns. According to the Guardian, “Trump’s latest supreme court pick could be the swing vote needed to tear down some of the remaining restrictions on gun rights in America, including giving citizens a constitutional right to carry a gun in public.”
We are also concerned about the process of this nomination. Every day we read new headlines about indictments of Russians interfering with our elections, Russian spies funneling money through the National Rifle Association, and Justice Kennedy and his son’s financial relationship with Donald Trump.
To address the skepticism felt by Americans about the current process, we ask that the U.S. Senate ensure that this nomination process not be rushed. The Senate should NOT schedule a hearing for Kavanaugh until all of his White House emails are published online. Kavanaugh could sit on the court for decades to come and we deserve to hear him answer questions to see if he shares the values of Americans.