GOP Tries to Tie Gun Rights Case to Kagan

Posted June 28, 2010 at 12:02pm

Senate Republicans are pouncing on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent in a controversial gun rights decision Monday to make the case that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s testimony may not be trustworthy.

The high court ruled Monday in McDonald v. the City of Chicago that an individual’s right to own a gun applies to states as well as the federal government. Sotomayor dissented, saying she did not see any “fundamental” right to own guns in the Constitution.

Following the ruling, the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a statement highlighting the fact that during her confirmation hearings last year, Sotomayor said she believed gun ownership was “an individual right” — which Republicans said directly contradicts her dissent in Monday’s opinion.

Entitled “First Obama [Supreme Court] Nominee’s Devolving Gun Views,” the release contrasts Sotomayor’s testimony during her confirmation hearings and Monday dissent. It argues that “Sotomayor testified at her confirmation hearing that she recognized the ‘individual right’ of the Second Amendment, but today she ‘can find nothing’ characterizing it as ‘fundamental.””

A senior GOP aide said the release is part of an effort to raise questions about Kagan’s testimony during her hearings, which began before the Judiciary Committee on Monday.

The aide said Republicans will use the high court ruling to highlight the “gulf between their testimony” and their records.

“The question is whether she’ll be candid or adopt the position that Sotomayor did in order to shore up support from Democrats who support the Second Amendment,” the aide said.

Meanwhile, McConnell on Monday will head to the Senate floor to question Kagan’s record and question whether she can set aside her personal beliefs as a Supreme Court justice.

McConnell will point to Sotomayor’s work in the Clinton administration and will question her ability to act independently.

“This is one of the key questions Senators will be looking to answer as these hearings proceed: Is someone who has done the kind of political work Ms. Kagan has done in her career more or less likely to restrain her political views if she were confirmed to a lifetime position on our country’s highest court?” McConnell will say, according to excerpts of his floor remarks.