On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch’s nomination was heavily backed by the NRA, both because of the pro-Second Amendment views expressed in his judicial writings and his originalist approach to jurisprudence. Justice Antonin Scalia exemplified originalism in his landmark Heller opinion in 2008 that recognized the Second Amendment protects an individual right grounded in the principle of self-defense.
Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation capped a dramatic series of events that began with Scalia’s sudden, unexpected death on Feb. 13, 2016. Not only was Scalia the Supreme Court’s leading Second Amendment champion, his was one of only five votes cast in the five- to-four Heller decision, and its five-to-four follow-up, McDonald v. Chicago. Although two justices voting against the Second Amendment in Heller had since left the court, they were replaced in the interim by two equally anti-gun Obama picks, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Thus, with Scalia’s untimely passing, the court was at best split four to four on its continued support for the Second Amendment’s individual right.
History will record that the balance of power on the Supreme Court was in fact a key issue in the 2016 presidential election and that Obama’s hand-picked successor, Hillary Clinton, suffered a crushing defeat after emphasizing her own view that the Heller Court had been “wrong on the Second Amendment.”
Judge Gorsuch was then confirmed on Friday by a bipartisan 54-45 vote.