Last night, liberals throughout the nation began their wailing and gnashing of teeth. Despite the fact that it had to be obvious this was going to happen, remarkably few bothered to prepare themselves for the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Among others, this represents a major setback for gun control advocates who been hoping to keep a Supreme Court that was lukewarm toward gun cases since the McDonald decision a decade ago. This despite a conservative majority on the Court.
With the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, though, an opportunity opened up. Now, Justice Barrett has an opportunity to step in and make the most of it.
To be sure, there are a wide variety of cases the Court will hear in the coming year or two, but for our purposes, let’s talk about guns.
Much of the blame for the lack of movement on Second Amendment cases appears to have been laid at the feet of Chief Justice John Roberts. To be sure, Roberts may well be a factor, but he can’t be the only one. After all, it takes four justices to agree to hear a case, and with a 5-4 majority, the Court should have been inclined to address gun rights.
Even if Roberts is voting against hearing gun cases, he alone isn’t the reason. It means at least one more of the conservative justices has been voting not to hear those cases.
However, we now see a 6-3 majority and Barrett take pro-Second Amendment into directions many of us wouldn’t have thought likely. After all, she argued that non-violent felons shouldn’t be barred from owning guns. That was a position many pro-gun people wouldn’t have even thought of taking, to be sure.
Between her, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh–all nominated by President Donald Trump–one would think only one more vote would be needed. In that, I think you’d see Justice Clarence Thomas side with the newcomers and agree to hear gun cases.
At least, that’s my hope.
Of course, I’ve also been disappointed a lot in the last four years. Following every confirmation, I’ve argued that now we’re likely to see some movement to gain ground previously lost to anti-gunners, but so far, nothing. With each confirmation, my hope soars, only to see it end up smashed against the rocks.
Yet logistically, the Court that reached the Heller and McDonald decisions should have had at least four people who wanted to hear more gun cases, to clamp down on lower courts ignoring the previous rulings whenever they felt like it. One would have imagined they’d have taken a case just to clarify the Court’s opinions if nothing else.
Instead, we’ve seen pretty much every gun case ignored.
With Barrett, though, we may finally get what we’ve been hoping for. While I don’t think non-violent felons should rejoice just yet–I doubt many other justices will side with her on that particular issue–it may become time for the Court to start hearing gun cases once again. This time it may be different.
However, I’m also going to say that if we don’t see the Court accept a Second Amendment case soon, I’m going to feel a lot more like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football than I care to.