Sonia Sotomayor and the Second Amendment


During last year's Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor, one of the most controversial issues centered on the would-be justice's approach to the Second Amendment. As I argued at the time, her 2nd Circuit vote in the case of Maloney v. Cuomo, where she held that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states, did not bode well for her future treatment of gun rights on the Supreme Court. It turns out those fears were well-founded. On Monday, Sotomayor joined the dissent of Justice Stephen Breyer in McDonald v. Chicago. As gun rights expert David Kopel explains in today's Washington Times, Breyer's dissent did not just oppose extending the Second Amendment to Chicago, it opposed the Second Amendment itself:

Not only did Justice Stephen G. Breyer vote against extending the Second Amendment to state and local governments, he also argued forcefully and at length for overturning Heller and, therefore, for turning the Second Amendment into a practical nullity. Ominously, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the Breyer dissent—contradicting what she told the U.S. Senate and the American people last summer….

The Breyer-Sotomayor-Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissent urged that Heller be overruled and declared, "In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense."

Contrast that with her Senate testimony: "I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller." And, "I understand how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans."