President Donald Trump released a new list of 20 possible appointees to the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, highlighting the importance of the Court in the November elections while challenging Democratic candidate Joe Biden to unveil his own list of possible SCOTUS picks.
The list of 20 contenders includes some familiar faces like senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley (who tweeted shortly after the list was released that he is not eyeing a SCOTUS seat), as well as a few names that Second Amendment supporters should recognize. Paul Clement, the former Soliciter General who’s represented gun owners in multiple Second Amendment challenges in recent years, is on the list, as is former Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who called for the Supreme Court to declare a New York City gun law unconstitutional back in 2019.
“New York City’s transport ban infringes the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd and 14th Amendments,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in a friend of the court brief
Francisco asked the court to “confirm” that the Second Amendment also protects the right of a “law-abiding, responsible citizen to take his firearms outside his home, and to transport it to other places — such as a second home or a firing range — where he may lawfully possess that firearm.”
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is another outspoken supporter of the Second Amendment on Trump’s short list. Cameron has publicly backed Constitutional carry
legislation in Kentucky, while expressing his opposition to red-flag laws, which he says “impedes on our Second Amendment rights.”
Other names on Trump’s short list are likely far less familiar to most Americans, but it’s possible to get an idea of where they stand on the right to keep and bear arms by examining their record as a judge. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, for instance, has urged the Supreme Court
and the Fifth Circuit to adopt a standard of review that focuses on the Second Amendment’s “text and tradition,” which would likely result in many gun control laws being struck down as unconstitutional.
Judge James Ho, also a sitting judge on the Fifth Circuit, has written
that the courts currently treat the Second Amendment “as a second class right,” and added that “Law-abiding Americans should not be conflated with dangerous criminals. Constitutional rights must not give way to hoplophobia.” You’ve gotta love a judge that knows that word at all, much less willing to use it in an opinion.
Florida State Supreme Court Judge Carlos Muniz hasn’t heard a lot of Second Amendment-related cases, but he was part of a 4-1 majority that ruled earlier this year that an attempt to ban so-called assault weapons via a referendum couldn’t appear on the ballot because it was “intentionally misleading”
to Florida voters.
Ninth Circuit Judge Lawrence Van Dyke was opposed
by gun control groups when President Trump appointed him to his current seat on the bench last fall, in part because as a candidate for the Montana Supreme Court in 2014 he told the NRA in a candidate questionnaire that “gun control laws are misdirected.” Van Dyke also drew the ire of anti-gun activists for supporting the Second Amendment as Solicitor General in Nevada, where he correctly pointed out that a universal background check law approved by voters couldn’t be enforced by the state as it was written; and in Montana, where he argued in favor of the “Firearms Freedom Act,” a 10th Amendment challenge to federal gun control laws imposed on firearms that never left the state of Montana.
I do wish that Ninth Circuit Judge Robert Benitez was on Trump’s short list, given that he’s authored opinions striking down California’s magazine ban and background checks on ammunition sales. I’d love to see Benitez, who’s the son of Cuban immigrants who fled during the early days of Castro’s takeover, on the nation’s highest court. Still, even without Benitez on the list, it’s a strong one. In fact, I’ve yet to find any evidence that any of the president’s potential SCOTUS nominees announced today has supported a limited reading of the Second Amendment or backed gun control laws. That’s great news for gun owners, but in order to ensure that the Supreme Court continues to recognize our right to keep and bear arms and builds on its decisions in Heller and McDonald, it’s going to take a Trump victory at the polls come November.