As Co-Chair of the Second Amendment Task Force, my biggest concerns with Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, relate to her unconstitutional rulings on gun rights. She has consistently shown a comfort with ignoring the original understanding of the 2nd Amendment and its important place in U.S. history.
In a 2004 criminal case named U.S. v. Sanchez-Villar, Judge Sotomayor went so far as to claim that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to the states. In that opinion, Sotomayor wrote that “the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right” and sited an earlier opinion which stated that “in the absence of evidence showing that firearm has ‘some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia,’ Second Amendment does not guarantee the right to keep and bear such a weapon.”
Then, in January of this year she concurred with a judicial panel in Maloney v. Cuomo that the Second Amendment “imposes a limitation on only federal, not state, legislative efforts.” This sentence is not only unnecessary to the overall opinion, but also seems to ignore the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Heller – outlawing many local gun bans as unconstitutional.
Furthermore, Judge Sotomayor’s statements ignore U.S. history and the fact that by applying the 2nd Amendment to the states, the 14th Amendment effectively eliminated many Black Code laws enacted after the Civil War by former Confederate states to prevent gun ownership by African Americans.
Though, the lower courts’ rulings in both Sanchez-Villar and Cuomo may have been correct, Ms. Sotomayor’s willingness to unnecessarily attack individuals’ 2nd Amendment rights is very troubling. Therefore, I do hope that she receives a fair hearing in the Senate, but I also strongly urge our Senators to demand explanations for these statements as they thoroughly examine Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s qualifications to take Justice Souter’s place on the bench