Sonia Sotomayor on Gun Control



2009: supported individual right; 2010: opposed it

Justice Sotomayor, during her 2009 hearings claimed fidelity to the "Heller" precedent recognizing an individual right to bear arms. What happens in 2010 when the "McDonald" case regarding that individual right came before the Court? She voted with her three liberal, activist colleagues against it.
Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p.113 , Nov 15, 2010

States may restrict weapons; Heller only applies to feds

Sotomayor was a member of the panel that issued an opinion in Maloney v. Cuomo, 2009. A state law prohibited possession of a chuka stick (also known as nunchaku, a device used in martial arts consisting of two sticks joined by a rope or chain) [which plaintiff claimed] violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms. Sotomayor's panel rejected the claim on the ground that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states. Relying on the Supreme Court's 1886 decision in Presser v. Illinois, it explained that it was "settled law that the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose" on the individual's right to bear arms. The Supreme Court's recent decision in DC v. Heller, the court continued, "does not invalidate this longstanding principle." The panel followed Presser because it "directly controls, leaving to the Supreme Court the prerogative of overruling its own decisions."
Source: ScotusBlog.com, "Civil Litigation" , Jul 25, 2009

The Second Amendment gives an individual right to bear arms

Q: It is now protected under the Constitution that the citizens of the District of Columbia can have a handgun, isn't there a danger here that if you don't have this incorporated against the states, that we'd have this result where the citizens of DC have a constitutional right to have a handgun, but the people of Wisconsin might not?

A: The Supreme Court did hold that there is in the Second Amendment an individual right to bear arms. And that is its holding and that is the court's decision. I fully accept that. And in whatever new cases come before me that don't involve incorporation, I would have to consider those issues is the context of a particular state regulation of firearms or other instruments.

Source: 2009 SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee , Jul 14, 2009

Many factors influence Congress's powers on gun control

Q: Are you in favor of restricting the distance that somebody could bring a gun close to a school?

A: Well, the gun-free zones school act, the court struck down in Lopez. In that case and in some of its subsequent cases, the court was examining a wide variety of factors. They included whether the activity that the government was attempting to regulate was economic or non-economic; whether it was an area in which states traditionally regulated; whether the statute at issue had an interstate commerce provision to--as an element of the crime; and then considered whether there was a substantial effect on commerce. The court looked at the congressional findings on that last element, and determined that there weren't enough in the confluence of factors that it was looking at to find that the Constitution--that that particular statute was within Congress's powers. That's the basic approach it has used to other statutes it has looked at.

Source: 2009 SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing, Senate Judiciary Committee , Jul 14, 2009

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Other Justices on Gun Control: Sonia Sotomayor on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Ketanji Brown Jackson(nominated 2022)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
Anthony Kennedy(1988-2018)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Mar 21, 2022