Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson affirmed Supreme Court Second Amendment precedent during her confirmation hearing.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) asked President Joe Biden’s nominee to the High Court for her views on gun-rights protections afforded by the Constitutional. He asked for Jackson’s personal view on gun rights. Jackson replied with Supreme Court precedent.
“Do you believe the individual right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right?” Grassley asked.
“Senator, the Supreme Court has established that the individual right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right,” Jackson responded.
Judge Jackson’s background on guns is limited. She didn’t rule on a Second Amendment case while on the D.C. Circuit and this is the first time she has been asked about the issue during an in-person confirmation hearing. However, she did provide a similar answer in written responses to Senator Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) during her confirmation to the D.C. Appeals Court. When Durbin asked how she would protect the Second Amendment, Jackson promised to uphold current precedent.
“As a sitting federal judge, I am bound to apply faithfully all binding precedents of the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court, including all precedents that pertain to the Second Amendment individual right to keep and bear arms,” Judge Jackson wrote. “If I were to be confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, that obligation would not change.”
Gun-rights advocates have been unmoved by Jackson’s comments about current precedent. The National Rifle Association noted she has not given her personal view on the Second Amendment and has instead relied on repeating precedent which she may not view herself as bound to once seated on the Supreme Court.
“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has never affirmed that the Second Amendment protects the individual, fundamental right of all Americans to keep and bear arms for the defense of themselves or others,” the gun-rights group said in a statement.
The Firearms Policy Coalition noted Justice Sonia Sotomayor made similar comments during her confirmation hearing before ultimately ruling against Second Amendment precedent once on the Court.
“I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller,” Sotomayor said during her confirmation hearing.
But, when asked to decide on Second Amendment protections in 2010’s Mcdonald v. Chicago, she joined dissenting justices in an opinion that concluded “In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self-defense.”
The NRA also pointed to Biden’s backing as another concern.
“Consequently, the NRA is concerned with President Biden’s decision to nominate her to the Supreme Court of the United States at a crucial time when there are vital cases that will determine the scope and future of the Second Amendment and self-defense rights in our country,” the NRA said.
Gun-control advocates have been equally unmoved by Jackson’s comments about the fundamental nature of the Second Amendment. Those groups view Biden’s endorsement of Jackson as the key indicator of how she’ll likely rule in gun cases.
“President Biden has governed as the strongest gun safety president in history, and we have every confidence that Judge Jackson will employ a mainstream, commonsense reading of the Second Amendment,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement after her nomination.
Jackson’s confirmation hearings will continue through Thursday.