Justice Amy Coney Barrett

After my weekend in Tucson, I was looking for some good news. Thanks to Cocaine Mitch and the GOP majority in the Senate (minus RINO Susan Collins), I got it this evening.

Congratulations to Justice Amy Coney Barrett. I hope she has a long and distinguished career on the Supreme Court.

Also, congratulations are due to Justice Clarence Thomas who got the privilege of swearing in one of his own clerks as newest justice on the Supreme Court. I am sure he is one proud mentor.

Trump’s Short, Short SCOTUS List

Back when President Trump was planning to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy, I published short bios of all the people on his short list. He has since added to that list and it becomes important again as he plans to replace the late Justice Ginsburg with another woman.

I had planned to do a post on the five women that were on the “short, short” list. However, news broke this evening that the pick will be Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Amy Coney Barrett

Personal:
48 y.o., married to Jesse Barrett, an AUSA for Northern Indiana, 7 children. Roman Catholic. 

Current Position:Judge, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, appointed by Pres. Donald Trump, confirmed Oct. 31, 2017 

Education:
Rhodes College, BA, 1994
Univ. of Notre Dame Law School, JD summa cum laude, law review, 1997 

Clerkships:
Judge Laurence Silberman, US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, 1997-1998
Justice Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court of the United States, 1998-1999 

Previous Positions:Associate, Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewin, Washington, DC., 1999-2001
Adjunct Prof., George Washington University Law School, 2001-2002
John M. Olin Fellow in Law, 2001-2002
Prof. of Law, University of Notre Dame Law School, 2002-2017
Visiting Prof. of Law, University of Virgina Law School, 2007

Scholarship:
Congressional Insiders and Outsiders, U.Chi. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2017).
Originalism and Stare Decisis, 92 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1921 (2017).
Congressional Originalism, 19 U. Penn. J. of Const. L. 1 (2017) (with John Copeland Nagle)
Countering the Majoritarian Difficulty, 31 Const. Comm. 61 (2017).
Statutory Interpretation in The Encyclopedia of American Governance (2016).
Federal Court Jurisdiction in The Encyclopedia of American Governance (2016).
Substantive Canons and Faithful Agency, 90 B.U. L. REV. 109 (2010).
Federal Jurisdiction in Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Introduction: Stare Decisis and Nonjudicial Actors, 83 Notre Dame Law Review 1147 (2008).
Procedural Common Law, 94 Virginia L. Rev. 813-88 (2008).
The Supervisory Power of the Supreme Court, 103 Colum. L. Rev. 324 (2006).
Statutory Stare Decisis in the Courts of Appeals, 73 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 317 (2005).
Stare Decisis and Due Process, 74 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1011 (2003).
Catholic Judges in Capital Cases, 81 Marquette L.Rev. 303 (1998) (with John H. Garvey) 

Judicial Opinions: In the short time Judge Barrett has been on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals (written in 2018), she has authored eight majority opinions and one dissent. None of these had to do with issues surrounding either the First or Second Amendments. 

Opposition:Judge Barrett, a practicing Roman Catholic and mother of seven, is loved by evangelicals and hated by the Left. The former hopes she’ll vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and the latter expect her to do that and thus find her objectionable. According to the left-wing Alliance for Justice, she decried Roe due to the Supreme Court “creat[ed] through judicial fiat a framework of abortion on
demand.” “

Some updates from my original post on Judge Barrett in 2018. Since she has been on the 7th Circuit, she actually had participated in a Second Amendment case. The case was Kanter v. Barr and Judge Barrett dissented.

From the SCOTUS Blog:

In a story in the National Review in August 2020, conservative legal activist Carrie Severino described Barrett as a “champion of originalism” during her short tenure so far on the 7th Circuit. In the 2019 case Kanter v. Barr, the court of appeals upheld the mail fraud conviction of the owner of an orthopedic footwear company. He argued that federal and state laws that prohibit people convicted of felonies from having guns violate his Second Amendment right to bear arms. The majority rejected that argument. It explained that the government had shown that the laws are related to the government’s important goal of keeping guns away from people convicted of serious crimes.

Barrett dissented. At the time of the country’s founding, she said, legislatures took away the gun rights of people who were believed to be dangerous. But the laws at the heart of Kanter’s case are too broad, she argued, because they ban people like Kanter from having a gun without any evidence that they pose a risk. Barrett stressed that the Second Amendment “confers an individual right, intimately connected with the natural right of self-defense and not limited to civic participation.”

From Damon Root at Reason.com about Barrett’s dissent in this case:

The categorical ban on gun possession by people with felony records is therefore “wildly overinclusive,” Barrett noted, quoting UCLA law professor Adam Winkler. “It includes everything from Kanter’s offense, mail fraud, to selling pigs without a license in Massachusetts, redeeming large quantities of out-of-state bottle deposits in Michigan, and countless other state and federal offenses,” she wrote. The ban is also underinclusive, she added, since people may reasonably be deemed dangerous even when they have not been convicted of a felony—for example, when they commit certain violent misdemeanors (another disqualification under federal law).

Given the poor fit between the ban’s scope and its ostensible purpose, Barrett said, it is not “substantially related to an important government interest”—the test under the “intermediate scrutiny” that the majority said it was applying in this case. “Neither Wisconsin nor the United States has introduced data sufficient to show that disarming all nonviolent felons substantially advances its interest in keeping the public safe,” she wrote. “Nor have they otherwise demonstrated that Kanter himself shows a proclivity for violence. Absent evidence that he either belongs to a dangerous category or bears individual markers of risk, permanently disqualifying Kanter from possessing a gun violates the Second Amendment.”

Barrett closed with a warning that will alarm gun control advocates but reassure people dismayed by the failure of federal courts to follow up on Heller and the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago (which made it clear that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments) by taking the right to arms as seriously as other constitutionally protected rights. “While both Wisconsin and the United States have an unquestionably strong interest in protecting the public from gun violence, they have failed to show, by either logic or data, that disarming Kanter substantially advances that interest,” she wrote. “On this record, holding that the ban is constitutional as applied to Kanter does not ‘put[] the government through its paces,’ but instead treats the Second Amendment as a ‘second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.'”

All I can say here is that if Judge Barrett had been Justice Barrett at the beginning of the year, we would not have seen the Supreme Court deny certiorari in the multitude of Second Amendment cases before it. Chief Justice John Roberts and his potential negative vote would have been mooted.

Groups, both liberal and conservative, have quickly sent out releases both anti-Barrett and pro-Barrett.

From Aimee Allison of “She The People” which is a San Francisco-based “national network connecting women of color to transform our democracy.”:

“Today’s news is devastating. Judge Amy Coney Barrett in no way fills the immense void Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg left on our highest court. She is favored among Trump-loyal conservatives, and her judicial record makes it clear she would be solidly opposed to abortion rights and inclined, even eager, to reverse Roe v. Wade, and the Affordable Care Act.

“If confirmed, right-wing judicial activist Barrett would reshape the law and society for generations to come. She is a detriment to our democracy.

Conversely, the Club for Growth is quite pleased.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh praised President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. 
 
“In the coming years, the Supreme Court will decide many critical cases on issues that will shape America’s economy. Either the Supreme Court will let the free-market operate without excessive government interference, or it will give the administrative state power it should never have. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is an excellent selection who has shown a rock-solid commitment to originalism and the Constitution.” McIntosh said. 
 
“Yet again, President Trump has nominated an extraordinary judge to the Supreme Court. This choice will shape America’s future, as the Court considers cases relating to issues like the constant unconstitutional growth of government and whether federal agencies should have free reign to enact arbitrary rules without Congressional approval. Judge Barrett is a principled originalist, and we have every confidence that she will rule appropriately on these vital issues. We urge the U.S. Senate to move quickly to confirm Judge Barrett.” 

It is going to be a war but a war I think we will win.

One last tidbit that I gleaned this evening from a little research. Judge Barrett and former NRA-ILA Director Chris Cox are both graduates of Rhodes College. I wondered if their times there overlapped and they did. Barrett was a 1994 graduate and Cox was a 1992 graduate. If Rhodes was anything like my alma mater Guilford, they may have had some classes together and most certainly would have seen one another on campus as both are small, liberal arts colleges.

President Trump Adds 20 To Supreme Court List

President Donald Trump announced 20 new people to his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. These 20 join the existing list of potential nominees. He also challenged former VP Joe Biden to release his list.

The list is a mix of sitting Federal judges, three US Senators, an ambassador, a state attorney general, a state supreme court justice, two former Solicitors General, and a couple of attorneys in the White House.

The list in the order that I wrote them down with hopefully few misspellings.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
  • Kentucky AG Daniel Cameron
  • Paul Clement, former Solicitor General
  • Noel Francisco, former Solicitor General
  • Judge Allison Jones Rushing, 4th Circuit, NC
  • Judge Bridget Bade, 9th Circuit, AZ
  • Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, 5th Circuit, LA
  • Stephen Engle, Trump Administration
  • Judge James Ho, 5th Circuit, TX
  • Judge Gregory Katsas, DC Circuit,
  • Judge Barbara Lagoa, 11th Circuit, FL
  • Amb. Christopher Landau, US Amb to Mexico, MD
  • Justice Carlos Muniz, Florida Supreme Court
  • Judge Martha Picold, N. Dis. of IL
  • Judge Peter Phipps, 3rd Circuit, PA
  • Judge Sarah Pitlyk, E. Dis. of MO
  • Kate Todd, Trump Administration
  • Judge Lawrence VanDyke, 9th Circuit, NV

I will be providing short vignettes about each potential nominee in the days ahead as I did earlier for the original list. There are several really good picks on the list in terms of the Second Amendment. I don’t think you’d have the denial of cert if a Justice Cruz or a Justice Clement or a Justice Ho were added to the Court.

You can see the announcement below. His reading of the names starts at approximately 4:15.

Alan Gottlieb On Denial Of Cert In 2A Cases

Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation issued a strongly worded statement today on the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in virtually every Second Amendment Case before it. The only case that touches on the Second Amendment remaining is Rodriguez v. San Jose. Given that property was taken by the police and not returned, you could easily make the argument that it was a takings case and not a 2A case.

“The Supreme Court’s refusal to take a Second Amendment Foundation case falls squarely at the feet of Chief Justice John Roberts.

“He owes every gun owner in the United States an explanation about why the high court declined to hear a number of important Second Amendment cases.

“Given the fact that the Supreme Court had a cafeteria-style menu of cases from which to choose, there is no excuse why the court at this time chose to ignore the need to rule on any of these cases, and send a message to lower courts that they can no longer thumb their noses at the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court decisions affirming the individual right to keep and bear arms.

“There is still one more case pending cert before the high court that was filed by the SAF. It is known as Rodriguez v. San Jose, a firearms confiscation case out of the State of California.”

Alan is 100% correct. This needs to be laid at the feet of John Roberts. One does wonder what sort of blackmail material that the Obama Administration and/or the liberal wing of the Court has on him that he has gone so wobbly. It is either that or a pathetic need to be loved by the mainstream media elites.

He wants the “Roberts Court” to be respected. However, the Chief Justice should remember that respect is earned and not given. He sure as hell didn’t earn any respect today.

In a time when there is unrest in our streets and the pandemic has led to an increase in crime in many locations, the need for the Court to reaffirm its rulings in Heller and McDonald was now.

They had 10 chances and they blew every bloody one of them.

Supreme Court Decides To Be A Doormat

In the face of numerous US District and Appeals Courts flat out ignoring its rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Supreme Court has obviously decided they preferred to be a doormat. In today’s Orders of the Court, virtually every single case dealing with the Second Amendment had certiorari denied. The only remaining case is Rodriguez v. San Jose which involves the confiscation of firearms from a non-prohibited person. (Last sentence is a correction from the original post)

With the exception of Rogers v. Grewal, a New Jersey carry case, all the other cases were denied certiorari without any comment or dissent. I don’t count the granting of permission to file an amicus brief and then denying cert as the Court did with Mance and Cheeseman as a comment.

The across the board denial of certiorari could mean a number of things. First, it could be a strategic move by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh to not bring a case where they weren’t sure they had the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts. He seems more interested in his own legacy as it will be written by the Washington elite and liberal academia. The man has lost all semblance of a spine. You saw it with clarity in his decision in the ObamaCare case. Roberts either sees himself as the successor to Justice Kennedy’s man in the middle or has decided to go full-Souter.

Second, it could mean the more conservative justices are waiting until such time as Justice Ginsberg is off the Court in hopes that President Trump will appoint someone would vote to respect the Second Amendment. This, too, has risk as the presidential election appears to be a toss-up right now and Ginsberg keeps hanging on (and on and on) despite her health issues.

Third, a number of the justices find the Second Amendment “icky” and any attempt to go beyond Heller and McDonald is a bridge too far. Certainly the liberal four are in this camp and they are depending upon the lower courts to continue to emasculate those rulings. They consider the Second Amendment a second-class civil right.

Fourth, it means that the Roberts Court has no self-respect and doesn’t give a big rat’s ass if their rulings are roundly ignored by the lower courts. We all know that if it a lower court ignored a ruling on abortion or some other most favored “right”, the Court would have been all over it and swatted the lower court down like flies.

I will examine Justice Thomas’ dissent on the denial of certiorari in Rogers v Grewal in which Justice Kavanaugh joined in part in a subsequent blog post. There is a lot there. I do find it instructive that the only justice to actually face racial discrimination is the primary supporter on the Court of the Second Amendment.

SCOTUS Punts Most 2A Cases Again (Updated)

The Supreme Court has their conference on Fridays to examine which cases they wish to take and the ones they don’t. They announce the results on Monday in the Orders of the Court. Not all pending cases are sent to conference but those that are can be denied certiorari (or mandamus), accepted, or passed on to another week’s conference.

The Orders of the Court released this morning indicate that they punted all the major Second Amendment cases to the next week. The exception was Bradley Beers v. Barr which dealt with the denial of Second Amendment rights to those who had been involuntarily committed no matter how long ago.

In that case, the Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and sent it back to the 3rd Circuit to dismiss as moot.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted. The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit with instructions to dismiss the case as moot. See United States v. Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36 (1950).

Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the Beers case to say why the Supreme Court said it was moot.

The Polite Society Podcast will have attorney Cody Wisniewski of the Mountain States Legal Foundation as our guest tonight. He will be discussing these potential cases and why he considered the finding of moot in NYSRPA v City of New York was not the end of the world for 2A cases. I will have a link up later where you can watch this on Facebook Live.

Cody was one of the attorneys who brought the case that forced New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) to reopen some gun stores in that state.

UPDATE: Thanks to Rob at 2A Updates I have an answer as to why the Beers case was considered moot. Mr. Beers has been cleared by the State of Pennsylvania, was granted a firearms license, and now has a legally owned firearm.

UPDATE II: The link to the Facebook Live broadcast of the Polite Society Podcast can be found here. It starts at approximately 7:05pm EDT tonight.

2A Cases Still Alive

All 11 Second Amendment cases that are still pending before the Supreme Court have been redistributed for conference on Friday, May 15th.

Scroll through the embedded tweet to see all the cases.

Figuring out what the Supreme Court will do is like reading tea leaves. That said, I still think the SCOTUS will take one or more of these cases and hold the rest for remand based upon their final opinion.

All Existing 2A Cases Before SCOTUS Still Alive

The Supreme Court Order List released this morning denied certiorari to a number of cases. However, they did not deny nor grant certiorari to any of the 11 existing Second Amendment related cases that were sent for consideration at Friday’s conference.

This means that cases dealing with everything from interstate sales to carry to microstamping are still alive. I am keeping my fingers crossed that one or more of them will be granted certiorari. The dissents plus Kavanaugh’s concurrence in NYSRPA v. City of New York indicate at least four votes to hear Second Amendment cases. It only takes four votes but realistically you would need five or more to be assured of a pro-2A ruling.

WSJ Editorial Board Gets It Right

The Wall Street Journal published a scathing editorial today on the Supreme Court deciding to moot NYSRPA v City of New York. I think they got it right. For a co-equal branch of government to cower before the threats of senators like Sheldon Whitehouse should be unthinkable. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

What an enormous abdication. The Supreme Court ducked its first Second Amendment case in a decade on Monday, and the only plausible explanation is that Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to avoid becoming a target of vengeful Senate Democrats.

The editorial then takes note of Justice Alito’s dissent which was joined by Justice Gorsuch in whole and by Justice Thomas in part.

The majority buckled and ignored previous rulings to do it. As Justice Alito writes, the Court’s precedents hold that “a case ‘becomes moot only when it is impossible for a court to grant any effectual relief whatever to the prevailing party.’” Plaintiffs want to transport their firearms without worrying about getting arrested if they stop somewhere along the way. The city even admitted in oral arguments that it’s unclear whether this is allowed. Justice Alito says this and more make the rule’s violation of the Second Amendment “not a close call.”

On the mootness point, Justice Alito also pokes his colleagues with this hypothetical: “A State enacts a law providing that any woman wishing to obtain an abortion must submit certification from five doctors that the procedure is medically necessary. After a woman sues, claiming that any requirement of physician certification is unconstitutional, the State replaces its old law with a new one requiring certification by three physicians. Would the court be required to dismiss the woman’s suit?” You know the answer.

Looking at Justice Kavanaugh’s concurrence, the editorial board found it “curious”.

Justice Kavanaugh’s role here is curious because, while he joined the majority on mootness, he wrote a concurrence agreeing with the dissent on the Second Amendment merits. This looks to us as if he is trying to protect the Chief Justice from being the fifth vote, and the sole “conservative,” providing a liberal victory while making clear he’s still a solid vote himself for gun rights. The phrase for this is too clever by half.

They note that the Supreme Court has been timid on the Second Amendment and is treating it as a second class right. Moreover, if shrill threats from the Whitehouses of the world and the media can sway the Court, then we can expect it to escalate on this and other issues.

They conclude on the role of Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Chief Justice is carving out a reputation as a highly political Justice whose views on the law can be coerced with threats to the Court’s “independence.” The danger for the Court is that, in bending to these threats, the Chief is compromising the very independence he claims to want to protect.

I wish Kavanaugh was more like his fellow Georgetown Prep classmate Justice Gorsuch. I said back when Kavanaugh was selected that he wasn’t my first choice. I much preferred Tom Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge. Both had better backgrounds on the Second Amendment. Moreover, neither were Ivy League law grads which I found to be a big plus.

My only hope is that the Court does take one or more of the Second Amendment cases that are still out there awaiting cert. Ideally, they would take one of the carry cases, Mance v. Barr, and Pena v. Horan. That threesome with the correct decision would allow carry outside the home, poke holes in GCA68, and do away with the California handgun roster.