Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Strange Conflict Over Gun Rights in Bush Camp

D.C.'s Gun Ban Gets Day in Court
Justices' Decision May Set Precedent In Interpreting the 2nd Amendment
By Robert Barnes,Washington Post March 16, 2008 (Excerpt)

“Despite mountains of scholarly research, enough books to fill a library shelf and decades of political battles about gun control, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity this week that is almost unique for a modern court when it examines whether the District's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment.

The nine justices, none of whom has ever ruled directly on the amendment's meaning, will consider a part of the Bill of Rights that has existed without a definitive interpretation for more than 200 years.”

Earlier this year I published a post (What Is Bush Thinking? Ask Fred on 2nd Amend. Rights) that revealed that the Justice Department of the Bush Administration had applied a “friend of the court” request to the Washington, DC gun control case that had been taken up by the Supreme Court. For years, DC had banned gun ownership (leading to its position as the murder capitol of the USA), but a federal appeals court finally threw out the ban. The case was appealed by DC to the Supreme Court, and gun owners have been hoping and expecting that our 2nd Amendment rights would finally be clarified and affirmed for all time. The request by the Justice Department so muddied the waters on this issue that supporters of President Bush have been both perplexed and angered by the move. Now comes this story of conflict between Bush and his own Attorney General. What is going on?
The Administration's Gun Battle
By Robert Novak, March 13, 2008 RealClearPolitics

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Preparing to hear oral arguments Tuesday on the extent of gun rights guaranteed by the Constitution's Second Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court has before it a brief signed by Vice President Cheney opposing the Bush administration's stance. Even more remarkably, Cheney is faithfully reflecting the views of President George W. Bush.

The government position filed with the Supreme Court by U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement stunned gun advocates by opposing the breadth of an appellate court affirmation of individual ownership rights. The Justice Department, not the vice president, is out of order. But if Bush agrees with Cheney, why did the president not simply order Clement to revise his brief? The answers: disorganization and weakness in the eighth year of his presidency.

Consequently, a Republican administration finds itself aligned against the most popular tenet of social conservatism: gun rights that enjoy much wider support than opposition to abortion or gay marriage. Promises in two presidential elections are abandoned, and Bush finds himself left of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama.

The 1976 District of Columbia statute prohibiting ownership of all functional firearms a year ago was called unconstitutional in violation of the Second Amendment in an opinion by Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, a conservative who has served on the D.C. Circuit Court for 22 years. It was assumed Bush would fight Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty's appeal.

The president and his senior staff were stunned to learn, on the day it was issued, that Clement's petition called on the high court to return the case to the appeals court. The solicitor general argued that Silberman's opinion supporting individual gun rights was so broad that it would endanger existing federal gun control laws such as the bar on owning machine guns. The president could have ordered a revised brief by Clement. But under congressional Democratic pressure to keep hands off the Justice Department, Bush did not act.

Cheney did join 55 senators and 250 House members in signing a brief supporting the Silberman ruling. While this unprecedented vice presidential intervention was widely interpreted as a dramatic breakaway from the White House, longtime associates could not believe Cheney would defy the president. In fact, he did not. Bush approved what Cheney did in his constitutional legislative branch role as president of the Senate.

That has not lessened puzzlement over Clement, a 41-year-old conservative Washington lawyer who clerked for Silberman and later for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Clement has tried to explain his course to the White House by claiming he feared Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court's current swing vote, would join a liberal majority on gun rights if forced to rule on Silberman's opinion.

The more plausible explanation for Clement's stance is that he could not resist opposition to individual gun rights by career lawyers in the Justice Department's Criminal Division (who clashed with the Office of Legal Counsel in a heated internal struggle). Newly installed Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a neophyte at Justice, was unaware of the conflict and learned about Clement's position only after it had been locked in.

A majority of both houses in the Democratic-controlled Congress are on record against the District of Columbia's gun prohibition. So are 31 states, with only five (New York, Massachusetts Maryland, New Jersey and Hawaii) in support. Sen. Obama has weighed in against the D.C. law, asserting that the Constitution confers individual rights to bear arms -- not just collective authority to form militias.

This popular support for gun rights is not reflected by an advantage in Tuesday's oral arguments. Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, an old hand at arguing before the Supreme Court, will make the case for the gun prohibition. Opposing counsel Alan Gura, making his first high court appearance, does not have the confidence of gun-owner advocates (who tried to replace him with former Solicitor General Ted Olson).

The cause needs help from Clement in his 15 minute oral argument, but not if he reiterates his written brief. The word was passed in government circles this week that Clement would amend his position when he actually faces the justices -- an odd ending to bizarre behavior by the Justice Department.


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At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush has made a few mistakes in the years that he's been president, and one can only concede that his record of achievements have far out weighed some of his decisions that fell short of our expectations. Having said that, I think that being in his last months of office, he has no obligation to anyone, and will probably hurt the gun owners, the very same way his father hurt the boat companies, when he created a "Boat User's Fee" back then under the same circumstances. I've liked this president since he's been in office, but I just don't understand why he has tried to push the "Law of the Sea Treaty" (LOST), or what he is doing to our Second Amendment Rights,as of now. I'm very puzzled about these things. Are we going to see more of this type of behavior if John McCain is elected this November? I'm quite sure that every gun owner knows his ant-gun record by now. I guess that we have no choice in this matter. All we can do is keep fighting for what we have.

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of this gun control stuff is really much to do about nothing. Whether it is constitutional or not, makes no differnce. The bad guys will always get guns (there are millions of them out there) whether it is legal or not, and the gun nut wackos will always believe they have a right to use their weapons to kill and maim, whether it is constitutional or not. Ad nauseam.
Don't we have more important issues to resolve (where there are solutions) in our country?

At 6:02 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

It's an important issue because legal gun owners reduce crime. Your point about gun nut wackos is absurd since it is documented that legal permit holders commit almost no crimes.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The answers: disorganization and weakness in the eighth year of his presidency."

"Disorganization and weakness" equals incompetency and that's all we've seen from this administration in the 7 years it has been in office.

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At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you had better forget about owning a firearm. You wouldn't know how to load it without shooting yourself in the process. I can tell by your wise facetious answers that you've never hunted or participated in the shooting sports, so I guess that makes me an idiot gun wacko because I have. Mister--,I grew up with firearms. I took a course in firearm safety back in the 1950s when I was 15 years old, and when I completed that course, I could purchase a hunting license and go hunting without being accompanied by an adult back then. I played sand lot baseball with the kids, but I had friends that loved hunting and fishing, and this is what we did back them. We never had no problem walking down the street with our shotgun in the open position cradled under our arms heading toward our favorite hunting areas of farms and wood lands. Today, we can't even have a shotgun in plain site. It has to be covered because of you whining Liberals. "Ohhhhhh! He has a gun!!!" It's OK for kids to smoke pot though,isn't it? "Hey, let's make it legal." Let me tell you something mister; When some drug crazed hellion tries to break into your house, I hope that you can get the cops to come and rescue you and your family in time before they beat the stuffing out of your. As for me,--I'm going to use whatever means possible to protect myself, and if my gun is handy, that's what I'll use!

At 2:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, maybe we ought to show everyone on this forum the real important issues that the Liberals are trying to push in my home state of "The People's Republic Of Massachusetts." After all, we all know that guns aren't an important issue to them, with the exception of Liberals trying to take them away from law abiding owners. So here goes;

1. Transgender Rights and Hate Crimes (H1722)
2. Allow out-of-state gay couples to "marry" in Massachusetts (S1029,S800)
3. Repeal sodomy laws and other laws regarding morality and order (H1709,S905)
4. Officially legalize same-sex "marriage" in Massachusetts (H1710,S918)
5. Force homosexuality & sexuality programs, abortion counseling, etc., into schools. (H597,S288)
6. Force "anti-bullying" programs in schools as entrée for homosexual/transgender, hate crimes agenda, etc.(H587,H540,H454,H453,S275)

7. Require all 6th grade girls in Mass. to get controversial HPV vaccine (S102)
8. Set up tax-supported Planned-Parenthood style "health" clinics (S96)

Are these the kind of important Bills that you are refering to, that are more important than our Second Amendment Rights?

How about Friday April 25, 2008? I bet you don't know what that important day is. It's none other than "The Nation wide Day of Silence for Homosexuals" which will be observed in most of the schools throughout this country, including Taunton High School and Dighton/ Rehoboth Regional High School in my area. These are really important issues aren't they? You Liberals aren't happy unless you're taking something away from everyone else. You want to take my dog away because she's part Pit Bull, my guns away because you're afraid of guns, and now you want to make queers out of our children in school because you think that "Gay is OK". I have news for you Lefty. I don't give up anything without a fight, and you can take that to the bank!

At 7:21 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

People who think they are making a logical arguement by using terms like "gun wacko" will have their comments deleted.

At 11:51 AM, Blogger RussWilcox said...

Those liberal blog baiters who object to having their comments deleted should read Liberal Blog Baiters at


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