Leading Democrats are bracing for battle over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, who will apparently be revealed next week, with perennial anti-gun Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) vowing that “if the candidate’s out of the mainstream, I can tell you I will fight and my caucus will fight tooth and nail against them.”
In Schumer’s world, the “mainstream” might be somewhere in the neighborhood of a Bill of Rights without the Second Amendment. Throughout his Capitol Hill career, Schumer has never met a gun control proposal he didn’t like, and he has been responsible for several. He does not want a high court vacancy filled by a pro-gun conservative, but with Republicans in control of the Senate Judiciary and the full Senate, he may not be able to prevent it.
But, the Los Angeles Times reported this week that a Colorado federal judge “has emerged as a leading contender” to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).
Forty-nine-year-old Judge Neil M. Gorsuch was named by the newspaper as the jurist who could succeed Scalia, who authored the 2008 Heller ruling that defined the Second Amendment as protective of an individual civil right. On the campaign trail, Trump said he would name someone to the high court with the same judicial approach as Scalia.
Judge Gorsuch currently sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, and is a Colorado native. He clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and served in the Justice Department under George W. Bush.
There are two others on Trump’s short list: Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the federal appeals court in Atlanta and Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, the New York Times reported. The president has said he will make an announcement next Thursday.
For the firearms community, filling the Scalia vacancy with a conservative could mean restoring momentum to Second Amendment legal activities. The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association both have legal actions in progress, and both organizations would like to have a right-to-carry case go to the high court. If such a case were decided favorably for gun rights advocates, it could be bad news for states with restrictive carry laws including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California and Maryland.