While we need to vigorously debate Sotomayor’s political and ethnic biases, as revealed in her outrageous statement about white males, as well as her membership in La Raza, we also need to avoid the bear traps along the way.
There’s been a lot of noise about Sotomayor’s ruling that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to the States. Here’s what she said:
Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor ruled in January 2009 that states do not have to obey the Second Amendment’s commandment that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed …
The opinion said that the Second Amendment only restricted the federal government from infringing on an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. As justification for this position, the opinion cited the 1886 Supreme Court case of Presser v. Illinois.
“It is settled law, however, that the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose on this right,” said the opinion. Quoting Presser, the court said, “it is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the national government, and not upon that of the state.”
Here’s a typical reaction, from a pro-gun website:
Well, we knew the current president was an anti gunner but supporters said nO! This is evidence that we have our work cut out for us.
The libertarian Reason Online also cites that ruling in its warning about Sotomayor entitled, “Why libertarians—and everyone who believes in limited government—should worry about Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.”
Yes, we should worry, but not for her ruling on the 2nd Amendment. Truth is, Sotomayor was right — the Bill of Rights was intended to limit the power of the Federal government. The Anti-Federalists who backed it as a precondition to joining the Union saw it as a line in the sand DC could not cross. It was Lincoln’s Counter-Revolution against the American Revolution that re-wrote the Bill of Rights into a list of individual rights to be enforced by the central government — which further advanced DC’s power.
But this isn’t just a fine point of history — it’s crucial to the cause of freedom. Submitting to Federal supremacy over the once-sovereign States will ultimately diminish both our culture and traditional liberty, no matter the imagined short-term gains.
Here’s a powerful example of how this will work:
Former Bush administration solicitor general Theodore Olson is part of a team that has filed suit in federal court in California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 and re-establish the right of same-sex couples to marry. …
I asked Olson about the objections of conservatives who will argue that he is asking a court to overturn the legitimately-expressed will of the people of California. “It is our position in this case that Proposition 8, as upheld by the California Supreme Court, denies federal constitutional rights under the equal protection and due process clauses of the constitution,” Olson said. “The constitution protects individuals’ basic rights that cannot be taken away by a vote.”
Re-read that last line to see where an all-powerful Federal government will take us. Yes, we might be “allowed” to keep our guns a little longer, but we will have helped create an unaccountable, unstoppable, and increasingly authoritarian regime to which there is no appeal. Selling your soul might give you some immediate gratification, but there’s a terrible price to pay down the road.