On day two of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pushed a backdoor angle on gun control and pressed Gorsuch to show openness toward it.
Feinstein cited a phrase from Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), that “weapons that are most useful in military service, M-16 rifles and the like, may be banned.”
Important point–she did not use Scalia’s entire statement and she did not quote it in context. Here is Scalia’s entire statement: “It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause.” The context was that he was showing that one clause of the Amendment is not set against another.
Nevertheless, Feinstein asked Gorsuch if he concurred with the words as she had read them. He said:
Heller makes clear that we judges are to apply. The question is whether it’s a gun in common use, for self-defense–and that may be subject to reasonable regulation. That’s the test as I understand it. There’s lots of ongoing litigation about which weapons qualify under those standards. And I can’t pre-judge that litigation sitting here.
Feinstein then interjected, “I’m just asking you, do you agree with his statement, yes or no?”
Gorsuch asked if those statements were out of the Heller case, and said that if they are he follows them: “Whatever is in Heller is the law and I follow the law.”
Feinstein replied, “So you agree?” Gorsuch answered by saying, “It is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, Senator, respectively, it’s a matter of it being the law. And my job is to apply and enforce the law.”
Feinstein then brought up quotes from United States Court of Appeals Judge Harvey Wilkinson, wherein he described the Second Amendment as having a meaning that is open to interpretation; that it is too full of “ambiguities” for courts to decide with finality. She looked at Gorsuch and said, “Do you agree with Wilkinson, that the Second Amendment is ambiguous? If so, should the ambiguity be decided by courts or legislatures?”
Gorsuch repsonded, “Judge Wilkinson had his view, and the Supreme Court has spoken, and Heller is the law of the land.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com.