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Thursday, May 13, 2010

NRA Vets Elena Kagan, Has Huge Influence In Politics

Scoring Elena: NRA Sizes Up Candidate’s Record On Guns

Roughly 70,000 gun owners are currently gathering at the National Rifle Association meeting in Charlotte, N.C., a city that’s already got a place in gun-rights history.

Charlotte’s where, ten years ago, then-NRA President Charlton Heston raised a replica of a Revolutionary War musket over his head, thundering, “From my cold, dead hands!”

One thing gun owners won’t hear this weekend is whether the NRA is for or against adding Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

An NRA spokesman tells us it hasn’t completed its vetting of Kagan yet.

Kagan lacks a written judicial record on the right to bear arms. But the NRA likely is unhappy with her role in the Clinton administration’s gun-control efforts. This record at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., shows that Kagan helped draft a presidential directive Clinton signed that suspended imports of semiautomatic assault weapons for 120 days.

Yet, some gun owners are encouraged that, in her written answers to questions by senators during her confirmation as Solicitor General, she didn’t criticize Heller v. D.C., the 2008 Supreme Court decision striking down DC’s gun laws.

To wit:

* When asked her personal opinion of the rights afforded by the Second Amendment, she said: “There is no question, after Heller, that the Second Amendment guarantees Americans ‘the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.’”

* When asked if she will “commit to protect an individual’s right to possess a firearm,” she said she would commit to “show Heller and the principles articulated in it the full measure of respect that is due to all constitutional decisions of the Court.

* When asked whether Heller was “rightly decided,” she said the case was “now settled law” and “entitled to my respect.”

* When asked whether she would “give weight to other nations’ restrictions on gun rights when interpreting the Second Amendment,” she said that the “grounded historical approach” adopted in Heller grants “no relevance to arguments from comparative law.”

Kagan would be replacing Justice Stevens, who dissented in the Heller opinion, as one pro-gun blogger noted yesterday. Thus “Kagan’s appointment may be one more vote on the Court in favor of the right to bear arms,” he concluded.

In July 2009, the NRA for the first time weighed in against a Supreme Court nominee, urging senators to vote “no” on Sonia Sotomayor. Its opposition was based on the answers she gave during hearings, as well as her rulings as an appellate judge, including one to uphold a New York law that barred a man from carrying a martial-arts weapon.

The NRA “scored” the vote on Sotomayor’s confirmation — meaning it told lawmakers that how they voted would count toward the NRA’s famous letter grades, ranging from A+ to F. But 8 of the 36 senators who won endorsement from the NRA defected by voting to confirm her anyway.

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