The confirmation today of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will immediately shift the Court even further in favor of the individual right to bear arms. This should finally give the Second Amendment the robust defense it has long needed at the nation’s highest court.
Until now, the Court has resisted taking up a significant Second Amendment case since the important 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller case. That SCOTUS decision held that the Second Amendment clearly protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm. Since then, however, CNN notes, the Court has turned away ten gun rights cases in the last term alone.
This SCOTUS benign neglect should change dramatically now that Amy Coney Barrett is on the Court.
While Barrett’s judicial record on the Second Amendment is limited to one dissenting opinion she wrote in 2019 as a federal judge on the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, her lengthy dissent in that case shows that Barrett clearly and rightly believes that gun ownership is a fundamental right.
The case was Kanter v. Barr, and Barrett’s dissent was nearly 40 pages long. That dissent highlighted her originalist mindset – the legal philosophy championed by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
As CNN notes, Barrett said at the time that the appeals court “treats the Second Amendment as a second-class right.” This was a scathing rebuke of the appeals court approach.
However, as The Trace explains, Barrett reinforced her legal philosophy on gun rights further during her confirmation hearing when she said she would prioritize “original meaning” in gun cases. That approach places “history and tradition” over public safety concerns in determining the constitutionality of gun restrictions.
Many legal experts believe that this Barrett standard will allow the Court to strike down some overreaching “gun safety” laws already on the books. Regardless of how Barrett may rule on future gun cases, the new Trump 6-3 conservative SCOTUS majority makes it far more likely the Court will hear more gun cases.
That can only be good for the Second Amendment and American’s right to own and bear arms.