With three Democrats joining the Republican majority, the U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of Colorado to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, thus allowing President Donald Trump to fulfill a campaign pledge to name a conservative to occupy the seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The 54-45 vote was completed just before noon Friday. It was quickly hailed by Second Amendment organizations, which had voice concerns during the 2016 campaign that the right to keep and bear arms would be in serious trouble if Hillary Rodham Clinton became president.
Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, congratulated Gorsuch on his confirmation, noting in a statement, “Gorsuch is an excellent choice to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Justice Scalia.”
Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to keep and Bear Arms and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said in a statement, “The court has been shy one critical vote and voice for more than a year. We are delight that time has come to an end.”
Both SAF and NRA have been waging legal Second Amendment battles since the 2008 Heller ruling that struck down the District of Columbia handgun ban and affirmed that the amendment protects an individual right to own guns that extended beyond service in a militia. One of those cases filed by SAF, McDonald v. City of Chicago, nullified Chicago’s handgun ban in 2010 and incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.
Friday’s confirmation was a defeat for perennial anti-gun Democrat Senators Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, and Dianne Feinstein of California.
On the campaign trail, Trump had promised to nominate someone who would reflect Scalia’s philosophy, often referred to as “originalist” because he adhered to the Constitution. He considered the Constitution to be a “legal document” rather than the “living document” that liberal activists have portrayed as an excuse to legislate from the bench.
During two days of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch came across as a measured jurist to supporters, but evasive to Democrats looking for any excuse to oppose his nomination. At one point, Schumer contended that Trump needed to find a different nominee. He also overcame attempts to derail the confirmation, including one allegation of plagiarism, reported earlier by Conservative Firing Line.
Some in the gun rights community quietly suggest that with Gorsuch now headed to the high court, it may be possible to advance other Second Amendment cases, especially one dealing with the “right to carry.”