Key Republicans made a last ditch effort on Wednesday to persuade fellow senators to vote against Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, making a case for what they described as her hostility towards the historic right of gun ownership.
“When it comes to the 2nd Amendment, I believe that Ms. Kagan shows a blatant disregard for the United States Constitution, and a feigned ignorance for the intent of our founders when crafting this amendment,” said Sen. John Ensign (R.-Nev.).
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska) said Kagan “ducked the question” during several days of confirmation hearings last month when asked about recent court cases to uphold the right, or pleaded ignorance of the law.
Kagan said she “never had the occasion to look at the history underlying the 2nd Amendment, I find that very hard to believe,” Murkowski said.
“Elena Kagan evidently has not thought much of the question,” Murkowski said. “At best, she is uninterested … and at worst, unsympathetic.”
Although Kagan told members of the Judiciary Committee during her hearings that the right to own handguns in certain cities was “settled law,” Sen. Thad Cochran (R.-Miss.) said he wasn’t so sure, and that she would likely support overturning those recent cases.
“Bottom line, the fact that Solicitor General Kagan refused to answer our questions about her personal opinions on the right to bear arms leads me to conclude that she does not believe people have a natural right of self-preservation,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R.-Idaho).
“At the hearing, Solicitor General Kagan was unwilling to discuss her personal views on the 2nd Amendment or whether she believed the right to bear arms is a fundamental right. When I asked her about her thoughts on the issue, she simply replied that she had never thought about it before. I also asked her whether she believed that self-defense was at the core of the 2nd Amendment. She could only respond, ‘I have never had the occasion to look into the history of the matter.’ As a former constitutional law professor both at Chicago and Harvard, Solicitor General Kagan’s response is troubling,” Grassley said.
The National Rifle Association launched its own lobbing effort against Kagan that had Capitol Hill phones ringing in opposition this week.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia told colleagues his office has received only one phone call in support of Elena Kagan, while thousands of Georgians have called and emailed him urging him to vote against the nominee—a response he described as “extremely unusual.”
In a memo to supporters, the NRA urged members to call their senators before the final vote confirming Kagan to the lifetime appointment.
“Both her political career in the Clinton administration and her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee make it clear that Kagan is a serious opponent of our 2nd Amendment rights,” the memo said.
In stating his opposition, Chambliss cited Kagan’s record on abortion, military recruitment, and finally, gun rights.
“She has demonstrated hostility towards the 2nd Amendment and gun rights,” Chambliss said.
At least 32 Republicans have indicated they will vote against Kagan, along with one lone Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska.
Nelson told the Omaha World-Herald that Kagan has shown a “bias against the 2nd Amendment.”
Specifically, Nelson recalled a note that Kagan wrote when she served as a Clinton Administration aide referring jointly to the NRA and the Ku Klux Klan and another comment she made while clerking for the Supreme Court that she was not sympathetic to gun rights.
“This gets right down to the nitty-gritty of a constitutional right that I think a number of people have been very concerned about, including myself,” Nelson told the paper.
Republicans planning to support Kagan include Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond of Missouri has declined to announce his position on the nominee until he can meet with her personally before the vote, which is expected on Thursday.
Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts has also declined to announce how he will vote on the nominee.