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AP Update: Sotomayor stands by ruling 2nd Am doesn’t apply to states

June 11, 2009

Senator: Sotomayor accepts gun rights ruling
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A Democratic senator said Thursday that Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor sees a 2008 ruling affirming Americans’ right to own guns for self-defense as settled law.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said Sotomayor told him at a private meeting that she will work from the high court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in future cases involving gun rights. The 5-4 ruling struck down the Washington, D.C., handgun ban and imperiled similar prohibitions in other cities.

Gun rights activists have accused Sotomayor of being hostile to gun rights because she was part of a panel that ruled that the Second Amendment protection of the right to bear arms did not apply to state and local governments.

In that case, Sotomayor and two other judges on the 2nd Circuit appeals court upheld a New York state law banning the possession of “chuka sticks.” They said they were bound by an 1886 Supreme Court ruling, but acknowledged the high court could take a different view, particularly in light of the Heller ruling.

Udall said he asked Sotomayor about her view of the Second Amendment during their visit.

“Clearly she spoke to the fact that settled law is just that, and the Heller case has been considered by the court, and she sees that as the law, and she will work off of what the court decided as other cases may come to the court’s attention,” Udall said.

Other senators have come away from their meetings with Sotomayor concerned about her position on gun rights.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., said Tuesday that he was disappointed that the judge refused to say during their visit that the Second Amendment “protects a fundamental right that applies to all Americans.”

DeMint said Sotomayor’s statement on Heller “doesn’t tell us much” about her view of the issue, noting that she stands by her ruling that held that the Second Amendment only protects against federal government curbs on the right to bear arms _ not state or local limits.

“(H)er opinion was that the hundreds of millions of Americans in the 50 states do not have a fundamental right to bear arms. She refused to back away from that opinion in my meeting with her,” DeMint said Thursday.

– Wesley M. Denton
Office of Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

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