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HUMAN EVENTS asks senators about Alito's firearms ruling

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Supporters of ‘Machine Gun Sammy’ Are Gun-Shy

HUMAN EVENTS asks senators about Alito’s firearms ruling

Today at the Capitol, I spoke with seven senators about Supreme Court nominee Judge Sam Alito’s dissent in a New Jersey gun regulation case advanced on grounds of the Commerce Clause that allows the government to regulate interstate economic activity. 

Alito’s opinion that upheld Supreme Court precedent set forth in U.S. v. Lopez has led liberals to call him “Machine Gun Sammy.” In a nutshell, U.S. v. Lopez overturned a federal law prohibiting the possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of a school and ruled “the possession of a gun in a local school zone is in no sense an economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, have such a substantial effect on interstate commerce.” Alito’s similar argument, in agreement with the Supreme Court, failed in New Jersey

Since this is likely to be a contentious issue in the Judge Alito’s January hearings I simply asked senators if Alito was correct. 

Alarmingly, only one senator, six of which were Republicans, was familiar enough with the case, and the Commerce Clause, to comment. 

Developing…
 
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R.-Kan.): [Answering another reporter’s question about his meeting that morning with Judge Alito.] Yes, we kind of hit the waterfront. Private property rights, commerce clause, religious freedom, right to privacy… 

Did you guys talk about the machine gun case? 
 
BROWNBACK: Yes, we talked about that in the Commerce Clause setting, but we talked more about his views toward the Commerce Clause. I tried really to cover a few different sets of issues and he’s pretty careful about how he would view a case on the Supreme Court, but he also gives you a clear indication of here’s how he thinks on issues. He’s quite clear about his thinking towards the Constitution and judicial restraint. 
 
[Brownback proceeds to answer other questions.] 

I just wanted to do a little bit of follow-up. Now, do you agree with his dissent on that case with machine guns in New Jersey when he said that the intrastate possession of a gun doesn’t violate the Commerce Clause? 

Brownback: I haven’t read the actual opinion yet. I’m going to have to go through that. We talked about, broadly, the Commerce Clause is a jurisdiction that’s allowed by the Congress, but limited. 

OK. 
 
BROWNBACK: We mostly tried to talk philosophy than specific cases because these guys aren’t going to articulate a particular case. 

  
Thank you.



Are you familiar with Judge Alito’s ruling in New Jersey on machine guns? 

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D.-Wash.): No. 
 
No? OK. He dissented and lost because he reasoned that—

CANTWELL: Who are you with? 
 
Human Events. 
 
CANTWELL:
Human Events? 
 
It’s a weekly. He reasoned that the Commerce Clause was not justification for Congress to regulate intrastate possession of a gun. He lost that decision. Would you agree? I know you’re not familiar with the case, but do you agree with that decision? 
 
CANTWELL: I don’t know. I’d have to look and see. I’m sorry.

No.   Who are you with?   Human Events.   : Human Events?   I don’t know. I’d have to look and see. I’m sorry.


Are you familiar with the machine gun case Alito ruled on? 
 
SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R.-Idaho): No, not in any detail. I’m sorry.

Basically, the Supreme Court— 
 
CRAIG: No. I’m not going to respond— 
 
You’re not going to comment? 
 
CRAIG: I’m not going to respond until I know the deal. 


Sir, are you familiar with the machine gun case Alito ruled on in New Jersey where he said the Commerce Clause— 
 
SEN. PETE DOMENICI (R.-N.M.):
No. 
 
—uphold regulating 
 
DOMENICI:
No. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to be involved until I read it. 


 

 

 

I’m with Human Events. Now, the Supreme Court said the Commerce Clause did not authorize Congress to regulate the purely intrastate possession of a gun.  This is very wordy. Alito applied this to a machine gun case in New Jersey. Do you think he was correct? 
 
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R.-Okla.):
Oh, no. 
 
No? You don’t agree with his decision? 
 
INHOFE:
All right. Tell me what the decision was. Could this wait? When do you go to press with this? 
 
It’ll be tonight, but I can get you on your way out. 
 
INHOFE:
You know, I had all the editors from Human Events in my office last week. 
 
Yeah, I missed that because I was here doing this. But we’re big fans. 
 
INHOFE:
What is it you have here? 
 
He said— 
 
INHOFE:
Who is he? 
 
Alito. 
 
INHOFE:
OK. 
 
He said the Commerce Clause does not authorize Congress to regulate purely intrastate possession of a gun. Now, he lost this and the two other judges ruled that the Commerce Clause can say you can’t have a gun in a school zone. Do you think the Commerce Clause can regulate that? 
 
INHOFE:
Honestly, I don’t know. Can I look into this and give you a response? 
 
That’s fine. 
 
INHOFE:
I’m sorry. 


 

 

 

Sir, can I snag you for a gun rights question? 
 
SEN. TRENT LOTT (R.-Miss.):
Mmmhmm. 
 
OK, great. I’m from Human Events. Now, the Supreme Court said the Commerce Clause did not authorize Congress to regulate the purely intrastate possession of a gun. Alito applied this to a machine gun case in New Jersey— 
 
LOTT:
Mmmhmm. 
 
That you might be familiar with. 
 
LOTT:
Mmmhmm. 
 
Was he correct? 
 
LOTT:
Yeah. 
 
Yeah? 
 
LOTT:
Yeah!


The Supreme Court said the Commerce Clause did not authorize Congress to regulate the purely intrastate possession of a gun. Alito applied this to a machine gun case in New Jersey. Was he correct? 
 
SEN. CRAIG THOMAS (R.-Wyo.):
Did not allow Congress to regulate the purely intrastate possession? 
 
Yes. So, if you have a gun in your house and you live in a school zone, this was turned down in New Jersey because somebody had a machine gun in a school zone, and they [Congress] said you can’t do that. Alito dissented. Was this the right thing to do? 
 
THOMAS:
So, he said this in a state decision? 
 
Yes. And he said it did not violate the Commerce Clause— 
 
THOMAS:
I don’t know the answer to that. This kind of a new issue and I think the whole idea of gun control is a compelling issue. I think people ought to have the right to hold a gun, whether or not it should be controlled by interstate commerce, I really don’t know.

Written By

Miss Carpenter was formerly a congressional correspondent & assistant editor for HUMAN EVENTS. She is the author of "The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's Dossier on Hillary Rodham Clinton," published by Regnery (a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

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