July 20, 2010

Ron Johnson requires you to license your guns

And submit to government-mandated functionality testing in order to receive the benevolent granting of those licenses' annual renewal:
Like we license cars and stuff. I don't have a real problem in minimal licensing and stuff. I mean, I don't.
— Republican candidate Ron Johnson, June 11, 2010
So it comes as a bit of a surprise to read Ron Johnson's blog post essentially accusing Senator Russ Feingold of dishonesty for his Second Amendment positions. But thanks to Russ Feingold, Ron Johnson's licensing proposals are probably unconstitutional.

While Ron Johnson was just another multi-millionaire from Wisconsin lolling on his divan hypnotized by Bill O'Reilly and Dick Morris's snow jobs, Russ Feingold was affixing his name to Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's amicus brief in McDonald v. City of Chicago.

Senator Feingold and the others filed the brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to urge the Justices to make their holding in a prior decision, D.C. v. Heller, applicable to all State and local governments. The Court agreed with Feingold, and cited the brief numerous times during the course of its majority opinion, authored by Samuel Alito.

Ron Johnson, for reasons best understood by only he and his crack team of legal researchers, apparently finds that incongruous because Russ Feingold opposed the confirmation of Justice Alito in 2006.

Gun buffs

Except Russ Feingold's opposition to the confirmation of Samuel Alito had nothing to do with the Second Amendment. As a career conservative Republican, Alito could certainly be depended upon to sympathize with the attitudes prevailing among Larry Pratt, Wayne LaPierre, and the rest of the nationally prominent gun buffs.

Rather, Feingold's opposition had to do with Alito's record of support for unilateral executive encroachments on the individual liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights, specifically, the Fourth Amendment.

For but one example, substantive questions raised by Alito's celebrated dissenting opinion as a Third Circuit Court of Appeals judge in the 2004 case of Doe v. Groody, in which Alito defended the strip-search of a ten-year-old girl in her home, even though the executive authorities' warrant did not "particularly describ[e] the place to be searched," as the U.S. Constitution requires.*

Nor had Feingold's opposition to Alito's nomination anything to do with the then-president. Had Johnson been paying attention to someone other than Fox lawyers Megyn Kelly and Andrew Napolitano, he would have known that Senator Feingold was similarly vigilant throughout the Clinton era, and remains so during the Obama years.


If candidate for Senate Ron Johnson really is as devoted to "freedoms" as he claims he is, his attentions should be in perfect consonance with Senator Feingold's principled defense of individual constitutional protections as against any broadening of executive branch power over the liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

And perhaps some intrepid reporter might ask candidate Johnson why he's so cool with subsuming the right to keep and bear arms — which Senator Feingold recently succeeded at incorporating into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment — within a DMV-like regime of state approval and registration. At the least, it will give the GOP candidate an opportunity to perform another about-face.

* The majority opinion was written not by some wild-eyed Warren Court devotee, but by Michael Chertoff, appointed to the Third Circuit by George W. Bush (with Sen. Feingold's advice and consent) and later named to head up the Department of Homeland Security.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the NRA would act with principle, it would endorse Feingold over Johnson. Feingold has been a strong supporter of the 2nd. Amendment his entire career. Johnson, as your article notes, wants to license gun owners.