The NRA paid to stack the Supreme Court with pro-gun extremists. Kavanaugh is the worst yet.
“Kavanaugh is exactly what the NRA has been seeking — a nominee with a robust history of opposing even the most commonsense regulations on firearms.”
Last week, days after declaring a mysterious organization-wide financial crisis, the National Rifle Association (NRA) launched a seven-figure ad buy. The campaign encourages key senators to confirm Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s most recent pick for the Supreme Court of the United States. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, fundamentally altering the Court. And clearly, the NRA is doing everything in its power to facilitate that ideological shift.
The NRA’s enthusiasm for Kavanaugh reveals quite a lot about his views on guns and the Second Amendment. The NRA spent tens of millions of dollars to elect Trump; they blatantly admitted they had the Supreme Court in mind as they endorsed and campaigned for him. Everyone knew that if he won, Trump would repay the NRA with extremist, pro-gun nominees. And he has. Last year, the NRA went all in to support Trump’s first nominee, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, calling him an “outstanding choice” — an ominous, if predictable, endorsement.
Gorsuch was bad. But when it comes to guns, Kavanaugh is even worse.
Kavanaugh is exactly what the NRA has been seeking — a nominee with a robust history of opposing even the most commonsense regulations on firearms. Perhaps most notably, in a case known as “Heller II” (the 2011 challenge to Washington, D.C.’s assault weapons ban), Kavanaugh argued that “…gun bans and gun regulations that are not longstanding or sufficiently rooted in text, history, and tradition are not consistent with the Second Amendment individual right.” Therefore, he claimed, “both D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional…”
This excerpt from Kavanaugh’s dissent illustrates the extremist nature of his views on the Second Amendment. In essence, Kavanaugh believes that any regulations on guns that do not have sufficient historical precedent — or did not exist when the Constitution was drafted — are unconstitutional. This, of course, is absurd, especially as applied to regulations on new types of weapons which may, under this framework, never gain sufficient historical precedent.
In the same dissent, Kavanaugh states that a ban on a class of arms is “equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.” This false comparison dismisses the fact that there are significant restrictions on speech, especially where speech incites imminent violence. In addition to being misleading, this comparison demonstrates exactly where Kavanaugh’s values lie. He likens our voices to inanimate objects — much like the NRA has done time and time again.
Kavanaugh would be a dangerous addition to the Supreme Court for many reasons. His views on guns rank high on the list. When determining whether a law or regulation is constitutional, Kavanaugh explicitly rejects balancing the interest of the government in protecting public safety with the individual right to keep and bear arms. This is the philosophy the NRA has purchased, and it is a philosophy that should concern all Americans.
Though the odds are stacked against them, Democrats must resist Kavanaugh’s confirmation. They must ensure that voters understand his dangerous views on guns and other issues. And if he is confirmed despite their efforts, they must tie vulnerable Republican senators to Kavanaugh, Trump, and the NRA — a toxic and increasingly unpopular trio among the American public.