The news is in: Sonia Sotomayor explicitly endorses and supports the individual right to bear arms as decided in the Supreme Court case DC v. Heller. The following are direct quotes from her testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
SOTOMAYOR EXCHANGE WITH SENATOR PAT LEAHY ON GUNS
LEAHY: I've owned firearms since my early teen years. I suspect a large majority of Vermonters do. I enjoy target shooting on a very regular basis at our home in Vermont. So I watched that decision rather carefully and found it interesting.
Is it safe to say that you accept the Supreme Court's decision as establishing that the Second Amendment right is an individual right? Is that correct?
SOTOMAYOR: Yes, sir.
LEAHY: Thank you.
And in the Second Circuit decision, Maloney v. Cuomo, you, in fact, recognized the Supreme Court decided in Heller that the personal right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution against federal law restrictions. Is that correct?
SOTOMAYOR: It is.
LEAHY: And you accept and applied the Heller decision when you decided Maloney?
SOTOMAYOR: Completely, sir. I accepted and applied established Supreme Court precedent that the Supreme Court in its own opinion in Heller acknowledged, answered the -- a different question.
LEAHY: Well, that -- let me -- let me refer to that, because Justice Scalia's opinion in the Heller case expressly left unresolved and explicitly reserved as a separate question whether the Second Amendment guarantee applies to the states and laws adopted by the -- by the states.
Earlier this year, you were on a Second Circuit panel in a case posing that specific question, analyzing a New York state law restriction on so-called chuka sticks (ph), a martial arts device.
Now, the unanimous decision of your court cited Supreme Court precedent as binding on your decision, and that Supreme Court -- longstanding Supreme Court cases have held that the Second Amendment applies only to the federal government and not to the states.
And I noticed that the panel of the Seventh Circuit, including people like Judge Posner, one of the best-known very conservative judges, cited the same Supreme Court authority, agreed with the Second Circuit decision. We all know that not every constitutional right has been applied to the states by the Supreme Court. I know one of my very first cases as a prosecutor was a question of whether the Fifth Amendment guaranteed a grand jury indictment has been made applicable to the states. The Supreme Court has not held that applicable to the states.
Seventh Amendment right to jury trial, Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines, these have not been made applicable to the states. And I understand that petitions asking -- seeking to have the Supreme Court revisit the question applied to the Second Amendment to the states are pending (inaudible) that case appears before the Supreme Court and you're there how you're going to rule, but would you have an open mind, as -- on the Supreme Court, in evaluating that, the legal proposition of whether the Second Amendment right should be considered fundamental rights and thus applicable to the states?
SOTOMAYOR: Like you, I understand that how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans. In fact, one of my godchildren is a member of the NRA. And I have friends who hunt. I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller."