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Judge Amy Coney Barrett Refuses to Distance Herself from Extreme, Dangerous Opinion on the Second Amendment

October 13, 2020

On Her Dissent in Kanter v. Barr –– Which Argued that People Convicted of Serious Felonies Should Not be Barred from Possessing Guns –– Judge Barrett said that “Kanter Shows My Judicial Philosophy” and “I Would Approach the Review of Gun Regulations… In the Same Way”

Today, during the second day of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Judge Barrett refused to distance herself from her extreme and dangerous dissenting opinion in Kanter v. Barr –– in which she stated that she does not believe people convicted of serious felonies should be prohibited from owning guns. 

Specifically, when asked about the decision by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Judge Barrett said: 

“What I can say is that my opinion and Kanter shows my judicial philosophy. I spend a lot of time looking at the history of the Second Amendment and Supreme Court cases. The way in which I would approach the review of gun regulations is in the same way. To look very carefully at the text, to look at what the original meaning was. I promise I would come to that with an open mind, applying the law as I can best determine it.”

Details from Judge Barrett’s alarming dissent in Kanter v. Barr are as follows: 

  • ​Last year, Judge Barrett authored a dissent in which she wrote that barring non-violent felons — even serious felons like the plaintiff in the case at hand — from possessing guns violates the Second Amendment. The two other judges on the panel, from whose majority opinion Judge Barrett dissented, were both Reagan appointees.
  • In reaching this conclusion, she adopted a dangerous Second Amendment analysis that largely ignored any questions of public safety, focusing instead on what she found to be the absence of analogous laws during the Founding Era. Judge Barrett even went so far as to say that prohibiting a serious felon like Kanter from possessing firearms would be “treat[ing] the Second Amendment as a ‘second-class right’” — echoing language regularly invoked by both the gun lobby and the Supreme Court’s most extreme Second Amendment Justices.
  • No federal court of appeals has adopted the approach that Judge Barrett did in the case and allowed, as she would, those convicted of felonies to possess guns.

If Judge Barrett is confirmed, nearly every gun safety law could be at risk, including bedrock laws like background checks on all gun sales, red flag laws, and measures to disarm domestic abusers –– all of which are supported by overwhelming majorities of American voters. A more detailed analysis can be found in this memo detailing Judge Barrett’s extreme positions on the Second Amendment, this memo on how this Supreme Court confirmation could impact gun safety in the U.S, and this chart showing which states’ gun safety laws are at risk. 

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