Judge Barrett and 2nd Amendment revisited
At Judge Amy Coney Barret’s recent confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, she stated that the 2nd Amendment grants individuals the right to bear arms for self-defense.
But her statement is false. Anyone familiar with the actual text of this amendment and its purpose, as defined by both its prefatory clause and the framers’ intent articulated in the Federalist papers, knows (or should know) that it does not grant individuals a constitutional right to bear or own arms for self-defense. For well over two centuries the Supreme Court never decided that the 2nd Amendment granted individuals such a right, and there is no indication that the Constitution’s framers ever intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in that amendment or elsewhere in our Constitution.
The commonly held, but false belief by Judge Barrett that individuals have a constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense is an example of what Plato referred as a “noble lie,” a belief that, though untrue, is propagated and perpetuated to sustain public accord by inducing citizens to accept as true and legitimate. This “noble lie” has been sustained by both pro-gun politicians using fear mongering to uphold this country’s gun culture and by propaganda from the NRA for its own self-interests and for corporate profits of gun manufacturers. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said, the 2nd Amendment “…has been the subject of one of the biggest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word, fraud, on the American public by special interest groups.”
There’s a vast difference between what the public (and Judge Barrett) thinks this amendment protects and what the nation’s Federal courts say it protects. For someone being considered for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, and self-claims to be a constitutional originalist who ostensibly interprets the Constitution as written and as the framers intended, Judge Barret’s false statement about the 2nd Amendment casts doubt about her fitness to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge Barrett damages her judicial credibility by perpetuating the “noble lie” about the 2nd Amendment because it indicates that, as a Supreme Court justice, her interpretation of it will be based on the “lie”, rather than its actual text and the framers’ intent. She was less than honest both in her claim about what rights the 2nd Amendment protects and in calling herself a Constitutional originalist who would interpret laws as they are written. Her incorrect and misguided interpretation of it was clearly demonstrated in her dissenting opinion as a Federal judge, calling a Wisconsin law that limits gun purchases by convicted felons unconstitutional. For these reasons alone, she should not have been confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court.
Jerry W. Elwood lives in Kalispell.