Giffords Responds to the Nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court

July 9, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, released the following statements after the announcement of President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court following the retiring of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords:

“In nominating Judge Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice, the Trump Administration is once again showing brazen disregard for the people it claims to protect. Judge Kavanaugh’s dangerous views on the Second Amendment are far outside the mainstream of even conservative thought and stand in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the vast majority of Americans. America needs a Supreme Court justice who respects the Second Amendment but who also realizes reasonable regulations that reduce gun violence do not infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights. But that’s not the kind of justice President Trump nominated today.

“America’s gun violence epidemic weighs daily on the minds of so many families in our country. Parents live in fear of hearing their children describe to them what it’s like to go through an active shooter drill. Too many people in communities across the country live in fear of being shot in their neighborhoods. In states across the country, students and voters have been speaking up, taking to statehouses, and demanding that lawmakers pass effective gun safety legislation. Their advocacy is delivering results: just since the massacre in Parkland, more than 50 gun safety bills have passed in 26 states. Should the Senate confirm the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, we have every indication to believe that he will prioritize an agenda backed by the gun lobby, putting corporate interests before public safety. Make no mistake, the progress we’ve achieved passing firearm laws that save lives every day will be in serious danger.”

Hannah Shearer, Staff Attorney and Second Amendment Litigation Director at Giffords Law Center

“Judge Kavanaugh has expressed a dangerous hostility toward reasonable gun regulations and made clear he believes the government’s power to address gun violence is extremely limited. Judge Kavanaugh rejects the idea that courts should consider public safety when judging gun cases and would strike down bedrock gun laws like those that restrict civilian use of the dangerous, military-style weapons regularly used in mass shootings.

“Even Justice Scalia, one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices in modern history, endorsed reasonable firearm regulations like the ones Judge Kavanaugh would strike down. Judge Kavanaugh’s positions on the Second Amendment are outliers far outside the mainstream, and confirming him to the Supreme Court could negatively impact efforts to fight gun violence for many years to come. The notion of Judge Kavanaugh serving on our nation’s highest judicial bench should worry Americans who care about the safety of their families and communities. Now is the time for them to speak up and demand a nominee who will respect centuries of American legal tradition, recognize that gun rights have always gone hand-in-hand with responsible regulations, and put the life and liberty of all Americans ahead of the interests of the gun lobby.”

Since District of Columbia v. Heller was decided by the Supreme Court ten years ago, the lower courts have overwhelmingly upheld reasonable gun safety laws more moderate than the handgun ban Heller invalidated. The United States Supreme Court has not granted review in a significant Second Amendment case since Heller and its companion case, McDonald, and they have denied review in more than 80 cases. The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh could mean that the Supreme Court intervenes more in these lower-court cases and overturns decisions that have consistently protected public safety.

In the near future, the Supreme Court may have the opportunity to rule on a variety of Second Amendment issues that are pending in the lower courts. For example, a series of NRA-backed lawsuits were filed this spring to challenge strong concealed carry permitting laws in New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. The NRA has also filed or supported a number of suits challenging critical gun safety measures adopted after the Parkland massacre, including laws that restrict access to the large capacity magazines used in Parkland and other mass shootings.  Any one of these cases could be the next major Second Amendment case to reach the Supreme Court, with critical implications for public safety.

The following experts from the Giffords Law Center are available for interviews:

  • Adam Skaggs, Chief Counsel, Giffords Law Center
  • Hannah Shearer, Staff Attorney and Second Amendment Litigation Director, Giffords Law Center

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