Monday, August 27, 2018

The Gun Nut And The Supreme Court Seat



The good news coming out of the weekend is that President Trump, on the occasion of the death of Senator John McCain, tweeted out condolences to the family without honoring the deceased. To have praised McCain would have been hypocritical on Trump's part and although foolish consistency may bethe hobgoblin of little minds, we'd all be a lot better off if a little mind were the President's biggest problem.

More concerning, albeit no more surprising, was the President's failure to respond to the murder of two young men at the Madden game show tournament in Jacksonville, Florida.  After a couple of ridiculous tweets on Sunday morning, Trump on Tuesday morning tweeted praise of arguably the greatest football player in American history, Jim Brown, probably a multiple domestic abuse offender.

As of mid-Monday afternoon, however, there still has been nothing from the White House on the Jacksonville crime.That would be a serious failure were it merely because Trump cannot easily exploit the incident because the alleged gunman is a white man born in the USA.

It probably is something much more. The President may or may not be owned by Vladimir Putin. But we know whom he is owned by. A hint came on May 4, 2018 with "These are real patriots, they really are, and they don't get the kind of adulation. But really, they do and we know that."

He might have been speaking about executives of fossil fuel, drug, banks, or private prison companies. However, "Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I'm your president" clears it up. An editorial in June in The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News noted Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

wrote a dissenting opinion in 2011 that said he would strike down a ban in Washington, D.C. on some assault weapons as well as a requirement that firearms be registered.

The 2-1 majority upheld the assault ban and some of the registration rules. Both judges in the majority were Republican appointees, underscoring how Kavanaugh's dissenting views on guns are to the right of his conservative colleagues.

The two judges in the majority said the D.C. laws were consistent with the Supreme Court's landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller that said the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess firearms in the home for lawful purposes, including self-defense.

The 5-4 ruling was written by then-Justice Antonin Scalia and joined by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who Kavanaugh would replace. While that ruling was a radical departure from previous interpretations of the Second Amendment, Scalia added that gun rights are "not unlimited" and that certain restrictions are permissible, including bans on "dangerous and unusual weapons."

Given Kavanaugh's dissenting view, it would appear he favors expanding gun rights beyond Scalia's Heller opinion.

 Kavanaugh's support for weapons of mass shootings won't be enough to lose him even one additional vote, of course. The GOP is opposed to gun safety legislation, and that generally includes "moderate" Susan Collins and especially Lisa Murkowski. The media understandably focuses on the latest bright, shiny object, and the Democratic Party is less committed to gun control than, say, preventing ICE raids and restrictions on LGBTQIA rights.

With the death of John McCain, who had not been present at the Capitol for awhile, the GOP will pick up an additional senator, who will serve until at least January, 2021, once one is appointed by the Governor Doug Ducey. 

Fifty votes in the Senate will then be even easier for the Repub Party to pick up for Trump's Supreme Court nominee. So no matter how extreme Brett Kavanaugh is on issues, his ideology will not wrest away one GOP vote.  If a dramatic indictment is handed down by the Special Counsel before the vote, there is a chance that Trump's popularity will plummet sufficiently to increase public opposition for confirmation of a Justice who would give the President an unqualified pass for his behavior.

Failing that, there is only one possibility. Brett Kavanaugh certainly knows how to work a cigar, a phone, and a bathroom into a memo, and it's probably not only for academic interest.









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