October 20, 2019

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US Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh: What He's Written on Gun Control and the Second Amendment

President Trump announced his pick for his Supreme Court nomination on Monday night, tapping Brett Kavanaugh for the position.  While Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, and Senate actions taken last year reduce the threshold for nomination approval to a simple majority, confirmation promises to be a stiff fight.  Kavanaugh has served as a DC Circuit judge since 2006, and he has provided many writings in the form of court opinions for analysis and discussion on a variety of issues.  

In this series, the National Law Review will examine Kavanaugh’s record on some major issues as well as synthesize external analysis of his positions from major players in the field.  

Gun Control is up first, as Kavanaugh's nomination has many Americans asking about his record on the Second Amendment and looking to his judicial record for clues to his thinking on the issue.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a major organization supporting gun control regulations, opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination and released the following in a statement:

“President Trump vowed he’d never let the NRA down, and with the Kavanaugh pick, he chose someone whose judicial record demonstrates a dangerous view of the Second Amendment that elevates gun rights above public safety.”

This analysis is based on the DC Circuit decision that Kavanaugh dissented from after the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Heller v. D.C. The DC Circuit upheld the semi-automatic rifle ban, but Kavanaugh dissented from that decision, saying:

There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.

On the flip side, the National Rifle Association expressed support for the nomination.  Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA,  said: “ “President Trump has made another outstanding choice in nominating Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court. He has an impressive record that demonstrates his strong support for the Second Amendment,” calling for a swift confirmation process.  

The Supreme Court last issued a major decision on gun control in the case referenced above, Heller v. D.C. , which said clearly that individuals could have a gun in their home for self-defense under the Second Amendment.  Since this case, the Supreme Court has not taken a case related to gun control, despite having opportunities to do so.  With gun control becoming a major issue following the Parkland High School shootings in Florida and politicians coming under increased scrutiny for their action (or lack thereof) on the issue, one wonders if that streak is about to be broken.

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About this Author

Eilene Spear legal news editor and writer at the National Law Review
Operations Project Manager & Lead Writer

Eilene Spear is the Operations and Projects Manager for the National Law Review.  She edits and formats author profiles, legal news content and legal event listings from prominent law firms who publish on the NLR website.

As Lead Writer, Eilene writes extensively on a variety of legal topics; including legal marketing topics, interviews with top legal marketing professionals and the newest trends in legal marketing.  Additionally, Eilene writes on issues affecting the legal industry, such as women attorneys and the challenges they face, along...