Election 2016: The Supreme Court Is Everything

   11.06.16

trump3 story two Supreme Court

I might sound like a single-issue voter, but I’m really not. Allow me to explain.

I’ll almost always support the candidate with a bold and unapologetic history of protecting individual gun rights. You’ll notice I said “protecting.” That’s a critical distinction. No government grants or gives rights. Rights are something we all already own. Period, paragraph, and end of story. So the concept of protecting gun rights is a big deal. The government’s job is to preserve the rights, any type of rights, that we already have.

So back to the single-issue thing. To me, gun rights are the ultimate litmus test, for lack of a better phrase, because I generally hate the idea of political litmus tests. If a candidate aggressively protects gun rights, you can be pretty sure that they understand the importance of individual rights. They place the power squarely in the hands of the individual citizen and not the government. After all, they’re supportive of protecting the right of an individual to arm themselves to protect life and liberty.

In short, if a politician is serious about protecting individual gun rights, then they’re serious about the concept of individual rights in general. One who protects Second Amendment rights isn’t at all likely to trample on other basic rights such as free speech, unlawful search and seizure, and so on.

The bottom line is this. If I vote for a candidate who supports the Second Amendment as an individual right, I feel like I’m voting for a candidate who supports most of my other core freedom-centric beliefs such as individual liberty, small and non-intrusive government, and meaningful citizen representation.

With all that said, we’ve got a really unique election going on this cycle. For the first time that I can remember in my lifetime, and perhaps the first time in United States history, we have a presidential candidate actively campaigning against the individual right to keep and bear arms. You don’t even have to search a deleted email account to hear Hillary Clinton’s thoughts on the issue. It’s recorded audio for all to hear.

“We’ve got to go after this,” Clinton said. “And here again, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”

Image from Hillary Clinton Facebook
Image from Hillary Clinton Facebook

More specifically, perpetual candidate Clinton was referring to the 2008 District of Columbia vs. Heller case, in which the Supreme Court clarified that the Second Amendment does, in fact, exist to protect an individual’s right to keep arms. Just 2 years later, in 2010, another landmark Second Amendment case, McDonald vs. The city of Chicago, the court affirmed an individual right to bear arms and prohibited de-facto gun bans. While a whole plethora of specific legal principles was at play in this carefully orchestrated case strategy of Heller and later McDonald, you can think of the two cases at a high level like this: Heller addressed the individual right to own a gun, while McDonald clarified the individual right to bear arms. If a gun ban exists where you live, you can’t very well exercise your right to bear arms, right?

Understanding these two lynchpins of case law is critical to realizing the tremendous importance of the next Supreme Court nominations. A single Supreme Court vote can effectively bounce us gun owners right back to where we were before these two cases.

The Roberts Court, 2010. Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Note: There are eight justices because Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016 at the age of 79. The next President of the United States will nominate someone to fill the Court vacancy, then the Senate will vote (simple majority) to confirm the nominee. This nomination/confirmation system is in place so both the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government have a voice in the composition of the Supreme Court. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)
The Roberts Court, 2010. Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Note: There are currently eight justices because Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016 at the age of 79. The next President of the United States will nominate someone to fill the Court vacancy, then the Senate will vote (simple majority) to confirm the nominee. This nomination/confirmation system is in place so both the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government have a voice in the composition of the Supreme Court. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)

As you’ll recall, many areas of the country had outright gun bans on all or major categories of firearms. We even lived through a federal gun ban on so-called “assault weapons” for a full decade. State and local governments had no federal check to stop them from enacting legislation that violated the very basic right to keep and bear arms.

This single vote threat is not at all hypothetical. Michigan man Clifford Tyler is almost certain to have his case heard by the Supreme Court in 2017. The result could effectively cancel out the 2008 Heller victory.

While a United States president can do either good or evil for 4 or 8 years, the justices they put in place can do good or evil for 40 or so years. That’s a big deal. How big a deal? Consider some of the possibilities should Hillary Clinton start placing her picks on the Supreme Court. Technically, these are hypothetical. In reality, they’re all already happening to some degree, even with the backstop of Heller and McDonald case law in place.

The president issues a directive to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to “crack down” on Federal Firearm Licensed (FFL) gun dealers. These businesses, large or small, are at the complete mercy of the ATF. Any one of them can be shut down immediately for virtually any reason. An employee made a paperwork mistake? That company is out of business. Permanently. Can you even imagine a world where, say, a grocery store printed the wrong date on a receipt, so the federal government seized all assets and shut it down for good?

Don’t believe me? Think back to 1993 when there were 282,000 licensed FFL dealers in the country. Due to presidential directive to the ATF and change in policy for licensing procedures, Clinton and crew successfully shut down over 178,000 FFL holders, bringing the national total to just 104,000 by 1999.

How about executive orders? George H. W. Bush started a campaign to ban the import of hand-picked semi-automatic rifles. Later, Bill Clinton amped that program into high gear, banning the import of large classes of “assault weapons.”

Executive directives don’t even have to be related to imports, either. Just over 1 year ago, President Obama launched an executive action to ban the most common type of ammunition for the AR-15 by classifying it as “armor piercing.” The fact that virtually all rifle ammunition is “armor piercing” was not lost on the administration, who clearly hoped to implement gun control measures by choking off the ammunition supply.

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State law is another area checked by the Supreme Court. Before Heller and McDonald, the District of Columbia and Chicago both had effective and complete gun bans in place. Even with Supreme Court support, the battle between rogue states and localities is never ending. How many cases are currently active, challenging California gun ban laws? Plenty.

Don’t forget the all-time favorite government regulatory tool – taxes. Back in 1934, the feds implemented a $200 tax on suppressors, machine guns, and short-barrel shotguns and rifles. In today’s dollars, that tax worked out to about $3,500. And if you think it won’t happen now, listen to Hillary and various West Coast politicians. There are plenty in favor of “gun safety” taxes on new gun and ammunition sales. How would you feel about $1 per round of “safety” tax for the children? Or maybe a $100 (or more) gun tax? With an unfriendly Supreme Court, this kind of stuff can sail through unchecked.

Last but not least, don’t forget the ambulance chasers. To this day, Hillary Clinton runs around the country claiming that gun manufacturers are completely exempt from lawsuits related to the misuse of their products. Yes, she’s actually upset that a crime victim’s family can’t sue manufacturer XYZ for making the gun.

Can you even imagine a world where parents could sue the local water company if their child drowned? Or where one could sue General Motors if they were harmed by a drunk driver? Yet that’s exactly what she wants, but only for gun manufacturers. That’s because it’s a great strategy to shut down gun companies by suing them out of business, whether they’re at fault for anything or not.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 exists solely to prevent abuse of the legal system and does nothing to protect gun makers from actual bad behavior. They’re liable just like anyone else should they do something negligent. Striking down that law would be one of the first agenda items for a Hillary Kangaroo Court. Don’t take my word for it, take hers:

“Probably one of the most egregious, wrong, pieces of legislation that ever passed the Congress when it comes to this issue is to protect gun sellers and gun makers from liability. They are the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability.” That last sentence is an outright lie, but that’s never stopped her before, has it?

In summary, think of it this way. With a Supreme Court unfriendly to the Second Amendment, all branches of the government – legislative, executive, and judicial, at federal, state, and local levels – can exhibit very bad behavior with no consequence. If anti-gun Hillary Clinton stacks the Court with like-minded justices, we gun owners are in serious trouble.

Here’s the bottom line: Thanks to mainstream media, we’re getting all wrapped around the axle about what a candidate did or said. I don’t care. What I do care about is policy. I care a great deal about the Supreme Court makeup. I want that bench filled with people who understand why it was created in the first place – to serve as a check and balance that ensures the executive and legislative branches of government behave consistently with the United States Constitution.

Image from Donald J. Trump Facebook
Image from Donald J. Trump Facebook

We know where Hillary stands on the Supreme Court based on her own words. We also know where Donald Trump stands on the Supreme Court based on his own words. In fact, he’s published a list of potential Supreme Court candidates on his short list for nomination. I like the list – a lot. But again, don’t take my word for it, you can check them out yourself here.

This November 8, you’re voting for a United States president, but also the future makeup of the Supreme Court. Cast your vote wisely.

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