Almost immediately after taking office, Donald Trump will have an opportunity to make a difference because, according to the Washington Post, more than 100 federal court vacancies need to be filled, including an empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
If Trump lives up to his campaign rhetoric, the high court will see a replacement in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, author of the 2008 landmark Heller ruling on the Second Amendment. The lower federal courts could see more conservative judges appointed to the bench, where many decisions are rendered regarding gun laws.
More than six years have passed since the Second Amendment was incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment. That was by way of McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Second Amendment Foundation’s case that essentially nullified the Windy City’s 30-year handgun ban and opened the way for other cases that forced the Illinois Legislature to pass concealed carry legislation.
Trump comes into office with nearly twice the number of federal court vacancies to fill than Barack Obama had when he was sworn in back in 2009. This could provide a unique opportunity to balance sitting liberal activist judges with conservatives who focus more on the constitution than creating new law from the bench, a criticism that has been leveled at the federal courts for many years. If successful, Trump nominations could reshape the federal judiciary where the Second Amendment is concerned.
Gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb last month encouraged Trump to have his new Attorney General appoint an assistant whose only job would be to identify and challenge state gun laws that violate the Second Amendment.
Now that the Second Amendment has been incorporated to the states via the 14th Amendment, under the McDonald ruling, Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, thinks it should be up to the Justice Department to go after those laws.
After all, Gottlieb reasoned, the Justice Department has sued over other subjects, why not possible Second Amendment violations?