July 20, 2010

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT GETS IT RIGHT AGAIN, AND I COULD NOT AGREE MORE

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." Does that quote by Thomas Jefferson leave any doubt of what our Founding Fathers intended in the 2nd Amendment? No, it is clear to me that it does not. Thomas Jefferson was an avid supporter of James Madison's first ten amendments to our Constitution (the Bill of Rights.) Clearly, he understood Madison's intent in the 2nd Amendment, which specifically protects "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms."

On June 28, the United States Supreme Court ensured that the right of armed self-defense was extended to all Americans. In McDonald v. Chicago, the court handed down a 5-4 decision in favor of Otis McDonald, a Chicago retiree, and several other residents of Chicago who challenged the ban on handguns in that city. This landmark decision gives federal judges the authority to strike down state and local laws on weapons that would be in violation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court got it right!

Our nation's highest court also made the right decision two years ago when it overturned the Washington D.C. gun ban in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. At that time, along with 54 of my colleagues in the Senate, I signed a Friend of the Court brief, or Amicus Curiae, supporting the Court's ruling and noting the rights of individuals in the case. The District of Columbia is a federal enclave, so the Heller ruling did not apply to states and localities. The McDonald v. Chicago decision now firmly establishes that the 2nd Amendment applies to all lawful gun owners across the United States.

As a staunch advocate of 2nd Amendment rights, I strongly support these two decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. We must protect and preserve our constitutional right to bear arms, and these decisions prohibit the federal government from denying law-abiding citizens this right.

The Supreme Court plays a preeminent role in protecting both the Constitution and deciding critical legal controversies. Members of the Court are appointed by the President and, when confirmed, serve for life and have a huge impact on all parts of our society. One of my primary roles as a United States Senator is to review the credentials of nominees to the Supreme Court, and I take this role very seriously, as do all of my colleagues in the Senate.

I will fully scrutinize the record of U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who has been nominated by President Obama to be a justice on the Supreme Court. Since she has not served as a judge, I will examine her writings and her political activism. I want to know her views on the 2nd Amendment and the role of the judiciary in our form of government. A justice sitting on our nation's highest court should be willing to interpret the law, rather than legislate from the bench. This ensures that personal biases are kept out of judicial decision-making. I disagree with judicial activism and will not support a nominee who considers this to be a judge's function.

I strongly support 2nd Amendment rights and will fight to make sure that those rights granted in the Constitution are not taken away. Abraham Lincoln said, "The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." I could not agree more.