The Lesson of the Loss of Scalia


Reader Matthew Howe writes:

As you probably know by now, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday. He was a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment and his passing opens up the possibility that the court will tilt the other way. Most of the coverage is focused on the political battle: will Majority Leader McConnell allow a vote before the next president is sworn in, or will the Republicans stand firm and block any nominee President Obama puts up? What’s being talked about less is how offensive the entire situation is . . .

How is it, in a supposed representative democracy, that one man is so important? Think about it. The Supreme Court actually has more power than the President or Congress. If four unelected lawyers who serve for life decide to hear a challenge to the Heller decision, it’s done. If five of them vote to strike down Heller, the Second Amendment as an individual right is gone. Just like that.

The President can’t do that. Congress can’t do that. The Supreme Court can do that.

Five unelected lawyers have the power to meddle with the Constitution itself. Since there are now four sitting pro-Heller justices sand four (assumed) anti-Heller justices, it all comes down to one person. One person who can cripple the individual right to own a firearm. And short of electing a President who will flip the court back to a pro-2A stance, there is nothing the people can do about it once it has happened.

Fortunately, we’re not powerless. Contact Senator McConnell. Swallow your bile and thank him for announcing he will not allow a vote on a SCOTUS candidate until after the next President is inaugurated. Politely encourage him to stick to that position and super-politely let him know of the consequences for abandoning that stance.

Contact every pro-2A senator with the same message. If you need help, here’s a web-page with links go directly to the email contact page for every pro-2A senator currently serving (last updated during the XM-855 debate).

But we need to do more. We need to confront the root problem, which is the absurd amount of power concentrated in the Supreme Court. The power that one swing vote Justice possesses.

The first thing we can do is keep the government as pro-2A as possible. That means, voting. But not just in the big-ticket national elections. We need to vote in every single election, school board, mayor, city or county legislator, and state-level offices.

Here’s the dirty little secret: turnout in the off-year elections is tiny. A committed group of pro-gun, pro-liberty voters who take a few hours to research the people running in these races (or run themselves) and then support the most pro-liberty candidates can have a huge influence on local, state and even national politics.

As important, the more liberty-loving people we help into local and state offices, the more states in which our point of view eventually dominate. And states are the key. Many are aggressively pushing back against federal gun control. If the SCOTUS rules that Heller no longer stands, it matters little if you live in a state that’s solidly pro-gun. It’s we fools who are trapped by our careers in places like New York and California who will suffer.

Second, no doubt many of you know who talk show host Mark Levin is. Love him or hate him, he’s gone beyond just ranting on the radio to propose a potentially real solution to the root problem: a convention of states which will amend the Constitution and hobble the overly-powerful central government. One of the proposed amendments would allow Congress or states to override Supreme Court decisions by a 3/5 majority vote. A lot of people have voiced opposition to this idea, but I invite you all to research it. If it sounds like a good idea, then get on board.

But a convention of the states isn’t going to happen unless enough states are in the pro-liberty camp. Which means building a pro-liberty majority from the ground up. And that means voting. And donating…in every election, no matter how small. (And if it’s hard to get to the polls because of work, request an absentee ballot. That’s what I do.)

Losing Scalia was a body blow, but not one we can’t recover from. The real test of our commitment is seeing if we can work to make sure we’re never stuck in this position again, a position where one SCOTUS appointment can potentially alter the basic structure of our civil rights.

Because that’s not how America should work.