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News Release
July 13, 2009

Stephen Halbrook to Testify Against Confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor

OAKLAND, Calif., July 13, 2009—The confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination begin today. Among other witnesses, Independent Institute Research Fellow Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook is set to testify.

The author of The Founders’ Second Amendment, Halbrook cites three cases in particular that demonstrate Sotomayor’s lack of suitability for the position. “In Maloney v. Cuomo (2008), she was on a three-judge panel which held that States are not bound by the Second Amendment and thus may ban possession of arms,” Halbrook notes. Such a decision ignored the impact of the Fourteenth Amendment, he argues, and the admonitions of the Supreme Court.

Halbrook, who filed an amicus brief in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and has won several cases before the Supreme Court, also cites United States v. Sanchez-Villar (2004), in which the right to bear arms was called into question. According to Halbrook, Sotomayor implied that “mere possession of a firearm—which the Second Amendment guarantees—creates probable cause for a warrantless search, seizure, and arrest.” Halbrook sees such violations of fundamental rights to be inconsistent with convention and justice, and hallmarks of someone unqualified for the Supreme Court.

While highlighting concerns, Halbrook does note a 2008 decision in which Sotomayor dissented from a conviction for violation of the federal Gun Control Act due to her belief that the local law was too harsh. “Although the case did not involve the Second Amendment, she did reject subjective policy preferences of judges regarding interpretation of the nation’s firearm laws,” Halbrook says, which leaves the picture somewhat unclear.

“It is to be hoped that in the . . . hearings [Sotomayor] will clarify her approach to this issue of immense importance,” he concludes. If confirmed, will she take the Second Amendment seriously? It’s an important question for the millions of Americans who value the liberties protected in the Bill of Rights.

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