Is “Gun Rights” the “New Abortion” for Judicial Nominees?

December 7th, 2011

Curt Levy thinks so, commenting on the influence of the NRA on successful defeat of Caitlin Haligan’s confirmation to the D.C. Circuit.

Citing Halligan’s “attacks on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans,” the National Rifle Association opposed a judicial nominee for one of the few times in its history. Gun Owners of America cited Halligan’s “avid leader[ship] in the effort to destroy firearms manufacturers using frivolous litigation,” and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms deemed her to be “Obama’s most radical anti-gun judicial nominee to date.”

Halligan’s defeat is part of a pattern that confirms our prediction that gun rights would become the “new abortion” in judicial confirmation battles. …

Why does this matter? As Levey explained in a 2010 op-ed:

“[The gun issue] changes the political dynamics of the judicial confirmation process, shifting the center of gravity by adding a large constituency with a long track record of effectiveness – including influence over moderate Democrats – to the coalition opposing the nomination of liberal judicial activists.”

And unlike the abortion issue, there’s no comparable countervailing force on the pro-gun control side of judicial confirmation fights.

This echoes a lot of what Adam Winkler wrote in gun fight.