Sotomayor: It’s not what I believe…
Today Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) questioned Judge Sonia Sotomayor about the 2nd Amendment. She defended her stance on the Second Amendment saying “it applies to Federal Government regulation.” She went on to say that in Maloney the question was, “was that right incorporated against the states?” She then claimed that in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court had said, “it’s not. So it’s not fundamental in that legal doctrine sense. That was the court’s holding.” I think she thought she could pull that one over on us, but Coburn was versed on the case and he didn’t let her get away with it. He asked, “Did the Supreme Court say that it definitely was not or did they just fail to rule on it?” Sotomayor began to back pedal and Coburn pointed out that “there’s a very big difference there.” In fact, Heller, held that local laws cannot violate the Second Amendment, only regulate for the purposes of public safety.
The United States Constitution is the Supreme law of the land. It trumps all Federal, State, and local laws. It even trumps foreign treaties and Presidential executive orders. The Supreme Court can find any of these unconstitutional if they infringe on the rights of the people or anything covered in the Constitution. So why does Sotomayor argue that any right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution might not be incorporated against the states? Obviously she opposes gun ownership. If the High Court were to find or create a loophole such as deciding the Second Amendment does not protect citizens from State laws the amendment would effectively be rendered null and void.
Coburn pressed her on this issue asking, “What we have today, as the law of the land, as you see it, is I do not have a fundamental incorporated right to bear arms?” She attempted to deflect the questions by responding, “It’s not how I see the law…” Coburn underlined the question to counter her deflection, “As you see the interpretation of the law today, in your opinion of what the law is today, is my statement a correct statement?” She did not want to answer this question. It was a straight-forward question, an important question, a critical question. But no, she deflected, “No, it’s not my interpretation, I was applying both Supreme Court precedent in deciding that question and Second Circuit precedent that had directly answered that question and said it’s not incorporated. The issue of whether or not it should be, is a different question and that is the question that the Supreme Court may take up?”
And that is precisely why Judge Sotomayor must answer the question. We should not have a Supreme Court Justice who does not fully respect the supremacy of the Constitution. But Sotomayor keeps trying to put her decisions off on others even at the expense of warping SCOTUS rulings as she did in insinuating that Heller maintained the right to bear arms is not incorporated against the states. A Supreme Court Justice decides how the Constitution is applied. They do so from precedence as well as their own interpretation of what the Constitution says. Many times they agree with precedence but they are not bound to precedence. Often the Court has overturned previous Supreme Court rulings, as Sotomayor has pointed out in these proceedings.
So when Sotomayor says, “It’s not what I believe, it’s what the law has said about it” she is evading the question. It is indeed what you believe since you will have a voice in deciding and influencing other members of the Supreme Court. Senator Coburn then repeated the question yet again. This time, as one might ask a child, spelling out the question, “I claim to have a fundamental guaranteed spelled out right, under the Constitution, that as an individual and applies to me the right to own and bear arms. Am I right or am I wrong?” Her response astounded me. People should demand Democrats take a second look at this nominee. Exasperated she replied, “I can’t answer the question of incorporation, other than to refer to precedent. Precedence says, as the Second Circuit interpreted the Supreme Court’s precedent, that it’s not incorporated.” In this answer, she answers in such a way that the press will gloss over it in an uncritical manner.
Heller, as I, a layman, read it never offers any precedence saying the Second Amendment does not apply to state law. In fact, Heller appears to me to support gun ownership while allowing for limitations that protect the public safety. Senator Coburn wonderfully countered Sotomayor’s obfuscation when he said, “In the Constitution, we have the right to bear arms. Whether it’s incorporated or not it’s stated there. I’m having trouble understanding how we got to the point where the right to privacy, which is not explicitly spelled out but is spelled out to some degree in the Fourth Amendment, which has set aloft and is fixed and something such as the Second Amendment which is spelled out in the Constitution and is not settled law and settled fixed.”
Democrats can call Sotomayor moderate but I call her position dangerous. For me, this is the heart of what qualifies one to sit on the Court; how highly do you value the words, as they are written, in the Constitution? When you, as a judge, start deciding in your mind or in your judgments that a part of the Constitution, with which you disagree, isn’t valid on any level, you are an activist judge. The Constitution is fixed (unless amended) and it is the supreme law of the land. There should be no debate on this. Senator Coburn asked a simple and valid question and 20 minutes later he was still struggling to get Sotomayor to answer it straight. However, she answered it in her Second Circuit ruling and she answered it wrong.
Senator Coburn landed a solid hit on Sotomayor and I fully expect him to be personally attacked by the left and naturally the press. Even as I wrote those words, I saw an AP story pop up entitled, Senator Ricky Ricardo? Coburn evokes Lucy show. When I heard him make the reference, I got it, but thought in light of the scenario it was funny and innocent. Now I expect it will be the basis of a concerted effort to distract ordinary Americans – who value the Second Amendment – from the issue.