U.S. gun owners are incensed by the Department of Justice’s “friend of the court” brief in DC versus Heller which is currently before the US Supreme Court.
An article in the Washington Times takes the administration severely to task for their input into this case.
Here’s the rub: The Justice Department says the Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the D.C. ban might cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation, including machine-gun regulations. So the administration urged that Heller be returned to the lower courts for appropriate fact-finding to determine whether rifles and shotguns in the home, as permitted by the D.C. Code, are an adequate substitute for handguns.
That came as quite a shock to those of us who believed the administration’s professed fealty to gunowners’ rights. What we got instead was a recommendation that could be the death knell for the only Second Amendment case to reach the Supreme Court in nearly 70 years.
Rather than a foursquare pronouncement that the D.C. handgun ban is unreasonable by any standard, the Justice Department has essentially endorsed years of depositions and expert testimony, and a rerun before a less hospitable Supreme Court.
In effect, a conservative administration has thrown a lifeline to gun controllers. Following the DOJ blueprint, they can pay lip service to an individual right while simultaneously stripping it of any real meaning. After all, if the D.C. ban can survive judicial scrutiny, it is difficult to imagine a regulation that would not.
It looks to me like a case of the bureaucracy advancing its own agenda and in the process further damaging the credibility of the Bush administration in the eyes of a constituency that were strongly supportive in his election run. To rub salt into the wounds, the Department of Justice has come down solidly on the same side of the issue as the notoriously anti-gun Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.
Did the President and his advisors know of the DOJ’s intent in advance and were either in agreement or simply indifferent to what they were proposing? Or were the DOJ lawyers just so arrogant that they believed they could proceed with their amicus brief completely disengaged from the real world? But that begs the question: Once the cries of outrage and betrayal began why the Cone of Silence over the White House on the issue?
Then in a move that almost bordered on schizophrenia, Vice President Dick Cheney, as president of the U.S. Senate along with 55 members of the U.S. Senate and 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed an Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the respondent, Heller.
John Lott notes that President Bush has the power to order the Solicitor General’s brief to be withdrawn or amended. For whatever reason, this has not happened. Predictably, this has lead US gun owners to believe that their President has sold them out.