Second Amendment

Judging From His Grilling of Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Richard Durbin Thinks Voting Is More Important Than Staying Alive

The senator thinks people with felony records should lose the right to armed self-defense but not the right to cast a ballot.

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When Sen. Richard Durbin (D–Ill.) grilled Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett about her critique of categorical bans on gun ownership by people with felony records yesterday, he misrepresented her view of voting rights. He also made a dubious statement about the relative importance of casting a ballot vs. exercising the fundamental right of self-defense that betrays a casual disregard for the latter.

In the 2019 case Kanter v. Barr, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld state and federal laws that ban gun possession by people convicted of felonies, regardless of whether their crimes involved violence. Rickey Kanter, a Wisconsin man who had been convicted of mail fraud, argued that such bans violate the Second Amendment because they deprive people of the right to arms even when they have never demonstrated any violent tendencies.

In her dissent from the 7th Circuit's rejection of that argument, Barrett challenged the idea that the original public understanding of the Second Amendment was consistent with "virtue-based restrictions" on the right to arms. Historically, she said, "such restrictions applied to civic rights like voting and jury service, not to individual rights like the right to possess a gun."

Durbin latched onto that distinction to suggest that Barrett has no problem with disenfranchising people when they are convicted of felonies. "You said disqualifying a person from voting…because of a felony is OK, but when it comes to the possession of firearms, wait a minute, we're talking about the individual right of a Second Amendment," he said. "I don't get it."

According to Durbin's gloss, Barrett thinks "a felony should not disqualify Rickey from buying an AK-47, but using a felony conviction in someone's past to deny them the right to vote is all right." That conclusion "is hard to swallow," he said. "I think the right to vote should be given at least as much respect as any Second Amendment right. Do you?"

Barrett gently suggested that Durbin, who said he had "read and reread" her opinion, "might be taking my statement in Kanter out of context." While "the Supreme Court has repeatedly said that voting is a fundamental right," she noted, "the Constitution contemplates that states have the freedom to deprive felons of the right to vote," which is "expressed in the constitutional text."

Section 2 of the 14th Amendment reduces the congressional representation of states that deny or abridge the voting rights of U.S. citizens "except for participation in rebellion, or other crime." The Supreme Court has interpreted that provision as allowing states to take away people's voting rights when they are convicted of felonies.

"I expressed no view about what the constitutional limits of that might be or whether the law should change with respect to felon voting rights," Barrett noted. "Obviously, that's a contested issue in some states that are considering it right now. And I have no view on that, and it wasn't the subject of Kanter."

While misleadingly portraying Barrett as untroubled by the consequences of felon disenfranchisement, Durbin himself seemed completely untroubled by the consequences of permanently disarming people without any evidence that they are prone to violence. That policy makes sense, he said, because distinguishing between violent and nonviolent felonies would be impractical (even though courts make that sort of distinction all the time, as Barrett pointed out). Yet the policy Durbin supports, like the one he opposes, is unjust and has a disproportionate racial impact, since one-third of African-American men have felony records, compared to 8 percent of the general population.

"Many felony voting bans were passed in the late 1860s and 1870s, when implementation of the 15th Amendment and its extension of voting rights to African Americans were ardently contested," Durbin noted. "The felony conviction was used to disqualify African Americans from voting in the South and in many other places." He said felon disenfranchisement reflects the "thinking in the 19th century that resulted in voter suppression and taking away the right to vote from millions of African Americans across this country," which "still continues to this day."

By the same token, the policy challenged by Kanter could be viewed as a continuation of 19th-century attempts to deprive African Americans of the right to arms—the right that Chief Justice Roger Taney, the author of Dred Scott v. Sandford, warned they would be allowed to exercise if they were recognized as citizens. That right was crucial to blacks facing white supremacist terror and intimidation in the 19th and 20th centuries, and it was intertwined with the right to vote. During the civil rights movement, activists registering black voters in the South relied on firearms to defend themselves against racists who wanted to stop them.

While Durbin says "the right to vote should be given at least as much respect as any Second Amendment right," the basic human right of self-preservation will strike many people as more important than the right to cast a ballot. You can't vote if you're dead.

Durbin views felon disenfranchisement as especially disturbing because it has a disproportionate impact on African Americans. Yet Durbin has no qualms about a policy that permanently deprives 7 million African-American men of the constitutional right to armed self-defense, even when they pose no plausible danger to the general public—including people who were convicted of violating drug laws that criminalize peaceful transactions between consenting adults. I don't get it.

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  1. “Durbin himself seemed completely untroubled by the consequences of permanently disarming people without any evidence that they are prone to violence.”

    Why would Durbin be troubled by that? This is *the* foundation for the Democrats expansive and categorical gun control schemes.

    The Democrats, by and large, believe that all guns should be banned because literally anybody is capable of flipping a switch and embarking on a psychopathic rampage of murder and destruction.

    1. Right, to the Democrat the only reason that person isn’t prone to violence is because you disarmed them and therefor reduced their capacity for violence.

      Everyone else is prone to violence because they have the means for it.

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    5. I have to admit that never have been a huge fan of firearms being in civilian hands. People with criminal records, those with serious mental illness or substance/alcohol abuse, or those with anger management issues, for example, should not be allowed access if and when their names come up on a gun dealer’s computer.

      More to the point, assault weapons most certainly should be banned, and Congress would do well to close the loophole that allows illegal sales of firearms to go on at gun shows. Rogue gun dealers should also be forced out of business entirely.

      Also, people who do own firearms should make sure that they’re locked up in a special safe, unloaded, with the ammunition separate. Guns should not be left out in plain sight, in cars, trucks, or in people’s homes, either, especially if there are family members with a history of mental illness, substance/alcohol abuse, criminal records, or anger management issues.

      Stronger gun laws should be implemented as well. Unfortunately, however, various lawmakers here in the United States, from the Presidents on down, have been affectively bullied by the NRA and the Gun Lobby out of passing stronger, more affective gun laws.

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  2. “anyone who votes and thinks it matters is a naive dupe ”

    “voting is the most important and sacred of all civic functions, and anything that stands in its way, up to and including verification of your eligibility to vote, is a racist and restrictive policy that must be fought at every turn”

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  3. Judging From His Grilling of Amy Coney Barrett The Majority Of His Career, Sen. Richard Durbin Thinks Voting Is More Important Than Staying Alive

    FIFY

  4. I love how Barrett is almost always visibly consternated in these pictures.

    1. She has been dealing with the most ridiculous horseshit from a group of barely competent dunces who are elected officials, I think consternation is appropriate. That said, I know I couldn’t maintain my cool while being spoken down to by immature self-aggrandizing/self-important ninnies like she has, I am impressed.

      1. If I were in her Hot Seat being grilled by a bunch of useless overpaid morons, I’d be calmly, careffully, articulately, softly, firing back at them with questions and responses that would go way over their pea braned heads, but for any sentient being, would be insulting or, better yet, evoking responsesqquestions that would leave not the merest shadow of doubt their stupidity.
        Bit maybe that’s why I’m NOT in her shoes……

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    2. It’s a terrible strain to keep from visibly rolling her eyes.

  5. You can’t vote if you’re dead.

    Chicago Democrats disagree.

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    1. ^^^^This^^^

    2. Amen. I learned that under my hero, Richard J. Daley.
      Some streets even run through graveyards. Look at a map of the city and check it out.

    3. Bravo… Bravo…

  6. As Trump’s nominee causes every liberty conscious American to flash through images of Trump’s Feds gassing and beating protestors to allow his upside down bible photo op and kidnapping protestors of the streets of the PNW,

    “Judge Barrett serves as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and is also a professor who teaches constitutional law at The University of Notre Dame Law School, so any constitutional question would surely be a slam dunk.

    Senator Sasse asked simply of the Supreme Court nominee “what are the five freedoms of the first amendment?” Surely the whip-smart professor of constitutional law would hit this softball out of the park.

    Judge Barrett replied by listing “Speech, religion, press, assembly…” before pausing.

    Collecting her thoughts, she started again, using her fingers to help her.

    “Speech, press, religion, assembly, I don’t know,” she admitted, failing to answer the question.

    “What am I missing?” she asked, smiling through her embarrassing forgetfulness.

    “Redress or protest,” Sasse replied,…”

    https://www.mediaite.com/tv/watch-amy-coney-barrett-fails-to-recite-five-freedoms-guaranteed-by-the-first-amendment-of-the-constitution/

    she and Durbin show how dangerous to liberty are the two big parties’ very selective recognition of basic and Constitutionally protected human rights.

    1. Ah, I see.

      She forgot redress and protest. Therefore, it follows that she does not believe the right exists.

    2. Protest isn’t explicitly mentioned in the 1A because its covered under assembly

      1. I think the punctuation tells the story. Look at where the semicolons are. There are really *three* basic rights protected here:

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

        or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

        or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        1. Nice. Punctuation is important. Another loss as we dumb down useful education for the sake of emotional safety.

        2. Technically, (the best kind of correct) only 1-2 rights are protected by name. The rest lays out explicit ways Congress cannot violate said rights.

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

          No rights named.

          the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Names 2 rights.

          or

          Implies rights other than the 2 named that Congress cannot violate.

          A bit nonsensical to say the semicolon(s) represent some sort of hard divide and then ignore the fact that the word ‘right’ occurs on the other side of the semicolons from where the actual rights are implied.

        3. However, protest appears nowhere and must be inferred from peaceable assembly and redress itself is explicilty not a right.

      2. 1A covers the right to peaceably assemble.

        Riots and violent protests don’t count.

      3. Redress also isn’t a right. The right guaranteed is petition. You can petition for redress, you don’t have right to redress.

    3. “As Trump’s nominee causes every liberty conscious American to flash through images of Trump’s Feds gassing and beating protestors to allow his upside down bible photo op and kidnapping protestors of the streets of the PNW,”

      Your head needs some company; stuff your TDS up your ass.

    4. I suspect that had he asked her to recite the 1st, she would have breezed through it perfectly. The turn-of-phrase and having to sit through hours of inanity may have discomfited her. But that’s just my guess.

  7. Durbin might think that filling in carton loads of fake absentee ballots is a form of self-defense — so long as you vote for his faction — so to hell with owning a gun to protect yourself from a housebreaker or one of his sanctioned murderous mobs.

  8. Durbin perfectly represents his constituency. Oh I don’t mean the people of Illinois. He is a terrible advocate for them. I mean the far left schlocky dumbasses that inhabit the media and the internet, who think gun rights and religion are for kooks and who have no problem praying at the alter of progressivism no matter who that harms. We can debate if a state should restore voting rights to felons. We have no need to debate 2A rights anymore. The left though cannot give up a fight even in the face of certain loss.

    1. I’m glad I no longer live in IL so Durbin can no longer purport to represent me

    2. Even Bill Maher admits that he owns a gun.

  9. Durbin makes Joe Biden look somewhat intelligent.

  10. “Many felony voting bans were passed by Democrats in the late 1860s and 1870s, when implementation of the 15th Amendment and its extension of voting rights to African Americans were ardently contested by Democrats,” Durbin noted. “The felony conviction was used by Democrats to disqualify African Americans from voting in the South and in many other places.” He said felon disenfranchisement reflects the “thinking by Democrats in the 19th century that resulted in voter suppression and taking away the right to vote from millions of African Americans across this country,” which “still continues to this day.”

    1. Give me a break. If you start blaming people alive today for something that happened 160 years ago you’re in reparations territory.

      1. You were saying?

  11. The first and most important thing to remember about all the DNC commentary in this hearing that never has a question is that their speeches reflect no views, they reflect no actual opinion, they have nothing to do with wanting to actually have a conversation. They are all talking points fed to them, along with the media and social networks by the poombas at the DNC. Stop giving them any credit for any sort of honest effort to express anything but empty rhetoric.

  12. Little Dick Durbin doesn’t want any of his nonconsenting boi lovers to shoot him in self defense. So he empathizes with the Communists in his party who don’t want anyone at all to have guns when they start coming for the kulaks.

  13. “Many felony voting bans were passed in the late 1860s and 1870s, when implementation of the 15th Amendment and its extension of voting rights to African Americans were ardently contested”

    Really, even back in those bad old days it was possible to disenfranchise felons without being a racist.

    When white supremacists *really* wanted to use criminal convictions as a proxy for race, they were sophisticated about it. The Mississippi constitutional convention in 1890 had a committee to see what crimes blacks tended to get convicted of, and which crimes whites tended to get convicted of. Then they voted to disenfranchise perpetrators of “black” crimes but not “white” crimes. The distinction wasn’t between felonies and nonfelonies but between bold and aggressive felonies (deemed white) and sneaky felonies (stereotyped as black). The racist part was where they let white felons vote.

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  17. Durbin does not think an individual right to self defense exists, at least no for the unimportant people. Durbin also sees a felon as a likely Democrat voter, and likely Democrats are to be all but forced to the polls. His position is not inconsistent with those beliefs.

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  19. Right, to the Democrat the only reason that person isn’t prone to violence is that you disarmed them and therefore reduced their capacity for violence.

    this new year, everyone else is prone to violence because they have the means for it.

  20. Durban has always been rabidly hoplophobic.

    He thinks that the only people who should have guns are the police state and those of his constituents who steal guns from the police state.

  21. Speaking of felons voting, in Florida, Democrats are paying the fines of felons so that they are able to vote under the new laws there. Without someone paying their fines, these felons would still be locked out of voting. How is it right that Democrats can pay the fines…how is that not vote-buying?

  22. if Durbin were to wake up, he’d realise that in the time since the Constitution was drafted and ratified, many thing that are petty crimes or not even criminal in a real sense of things have now been made into felonies.

    Try these:

    Bought a rigle firtee n years ago, an AR pattern, and half a dozen mags that hold 20 rounds each. Never used it much, put it away and forgot about it mostly. My state passed a new law declaring possessioin of such a rifle a felony, and as well each mag of over ten round capacity. I don’t watch the news, nor read the papers nuch, so never found that out. Now I am suddenly a felon waiting to be captured.

    In my county, it is a felony to shoot a cat. Any cat, any time, anywhere, for any reason, even if it is a feral nuisance cat. They are too smart for traps, don’t want to poison becuase I can’t control what eats it, or eats the sick cat who eats it. IF I deal with it, using Montana’s Four S plan, I become a felon i waiting.

    Had a cheap old .22 rifle, it got run over by a tractor and bent the barrel just out near the end. I saw where thei curve bagen, and sawed the barrel off just before that. \Same rifle iI’ve had for forty years. No problem. COme to find out, the cut I had to make to save the rifle was one half inch too far toward the reciever, making the rifle a “short batrreled rifle”. in fact less accurate and deadly that it was before Johnny Deere walked over it. I”m now a felon in waiting, and don’t even realise it.WHO HERE can tell me without looking it up that the minimum length of a rifle barrel has to be to keep me from being a felon?

    Was hurt at work, unable to hold down my usual job, had to find something else and a serious cut in pay, shorter hours. Wife left me because of not much money. SHE filed to get the kids, and the house. Now I have to spend MORE money to maintain my own household. After a slowdown at work, my pay dropped even more (thanks guvnr, for “keeping us SO safe” we can’t even gt work) Of course I began to fall behind in child support…. which I wouldn’t even have topay if we were still one household, as the kids were fine before with room for all of us. BUT. after six months I got servedpapers, and am now chargedwith felony child neglect for not paying the child support . Now every firearm andrundof ammunition in my house is one more felony charge, when I made NO decistion to ut myself here.

    Driving across the Califonria desert keeping with the flow ot traffic (rolling along at nintey or sol give or take) I got hammered (my car was the “old one”) for felony reckless driving, cause I was radared at 21 over the posted imit….. when I know others were doing ten more than I was….. that is a felony.

    Shold I lose my right to arms, OR my right to vote for AY of those things?

    Durbin needs to wake up and realise what’s going on in HIS country. Sometime ya’d think this was Venezuela…….

  23. Let us not forget: Durbin was the sayan emplaced by Jewish money to displace Paul Findley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Findley) who, with his cautions regarding excessive fealty to the State of Israel, had become a serious thorn in the side of their agenda.
    1982.
    Remember? It’s been going on for quite a long time, now.

  24. Total hogwash. I am sure that neither you or the soon to be justice have any problem with submerging the franchise below its natural position. But modern liberterians seem not concerned about the right to vote. In a word absurd.

  25. Ironically, many former felons will need to defend themselves more than anyone…

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