Election 2012: Supreme Court hangs in the balance
I believe freedom is worth fighting for. I am committed to protecting the freedoms our forefathers guaranteed to us in our Constitution. There are many politicians who disagree with me, although they are loath to admit it, but their true colors show in voting records on critical legislation. And part of what makes America great is that every two years, we, too, cast our votes, rendering judgment on whether lawmakers have fulfilled their promises. And every four years, as in 2012, our opportunity extends to the highest office in the land.
Less than 60 days remains before Election Day. I don’t need to tell you how important this election is to the future of our country. The stakes are high, and that’s why I proudly serve as honorary chairman of Trigger The Vote, the National Rifle Association’s nonpartisan campaign to register voters who support the Second Amendment. As a proud gun owner and defender of our Constitution, I am working within the system to make sure my voice is heard in Washington.
In the past several years, we have achieved great victories. In two rulings, the Heller decision and the McDonald decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that all American citizens, in every state and municipality, have the right to legally possess a firearm. Those decisions were a tremendous accomplishment, and they finally ratified what our Founding Fathers envisioned when they drafted the Second Amendment.
So those who wish to deny our freedoms have been vanquished, and all is settled, right?
Wrong. There’s a storm brewing on the horizon. Those who want to restrict our freedom have not surrendered. In truth, they are counting on this election to make their move. They are playing the long game, looking down the road to a day when one or more vacancies on the Supreme Court could upset the current balance.
The Heller and McDonald decisions were decided by razor-thin 5-4 votes in the Supreme Court. Those who want to overturn these decisions are betting on at least one of the nine Supreme Court justices to retire or otherwise leave service during the next four years. Some pundits have suggested that the number of Supreme Court vacancies filled by the next president could be as many as three.
Like all Supreme Court decisions, Heller and McDonald are not set in stone. If the balance on the court is shifted, a new challenge quickly can be mounted in the lower federal courts, eventually making it to the Supreme Court. Our freedoms hang in the balance by the thin gossamer thread of a single vote. If that vote turns, the victories we worked so hard to solidify could be reversed.
The threat is present not only at the Supreme Court but also throughout our federal judiciary. Right now, dozens of cases already are winding their way through federal courts to implement the Supreme Court’s rulings in Heller and McDonald. Those rulings were somewhat general in tone, and now their specific impact on existing gun laws is being defined through these cases.
The president also nominates judges for all levels of the federal bench. That is why we need to make sure we have a president whose nominees for any court — including the Supreme Court — will support the original meaning of our Constitution.
Every plan needs a backup, and this one is no different. We also need to make sure we have a U.S. Senate that is supportive of our fundamental freedoms, because the Senate votes to confirm new judges and justices. Several of the key Senate races are in highly competitive “battleground” states, and they may tip the balance of power in this country. If you live in these states, it’s important to make your voice heard.
And that’s why I am urging Second Amendment supporters nationwide to register to vote. If you’re already registered, you probably know someone who isn’t. Share the stakes of this election with that person, and urge him or her to join the rolls of informed voters. We’ve made it easy on our website; all the tools to register are at http://www.TriggerTheVote.org. After all, when it comes to defending yourself and your family, can we really afford to gamble here?
I’ve spent my entire life standing up for what is right and seeking justice. I sleep better at night knowing that I have registered and exercised my right to vote. I urge everyone who is eligible to vote to do so. Let’s make sure that the future of our country is in the hands of those who cherish freedom.
(Don’t forget: “Last Ounce of Courage,” the first theatrical motion picture to be awarded with my “Chuck Norris Seal of Approval,” opens nationwide Sept. 14, coinciding with the 9/11 commemoration of Patriot Day. Visit http://www.LastOunceTheMovie.com for more information, including where it is showing in your area.)