CNN headline: 'Barrett says she owns a gun, but could fairly judge a case on gun rights'

CNN headline: 'Barrett says she owns a gun, but could fairly judge a case on gun rights'

We’ll get to the CNN headline in a moment but to appreciate how completely out-of-context this is you need to first see how it came about.

Earlier today Senator Lindsey Graham used his time questioning Judge Amy Coney Barrett to make a point about how the judicial process works. Graham was trying point out that all of the hot controversies Democrats are excited about, from abortion rights to the survival of the ACA to gun control can not be decided simply because, once confirmed, Justice Barrett decides to impose her personal views. He used various real life cases as examples to make his point.

“There’s the Heller case, what’s that about?” Graham asked.

“The Heller case is a case decided by the Supreme Court which held that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms,” Barrett replied.

“If a state or local government passed a law in defiance of Heller, what would happen?” Graham asked.

“If it was brought in a lower court, Heller binds,” Barrett said. “Lower courts always have to follow Supreme Court precedent,” she added.

“And if the Supreme Court wanted to revisit Heller, what would they do?” Graham said.

Barrett explained the Supreme Court would have to agree to take the case after it was appealed all the way up. “It would start because there was a law and then there was a lawsuit, then there was an appeal, then the court granted cert. and then the court decided the case.”

“Does that process hold true for everything?” Graham said.

“Yes, judges can’t just wake up one day and say I have an agenda—I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion—and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett said. She continued, “You have to wait for cases and controversies, which is the language of the constitution, to wind their way through the process.”

Graham then spent the next several minutes walking through challenges to current abortion law and pointed out that 14 states have passed laws that some see as contrary to the Supreme Court’s Casey decision. Once again, Barrett walked through the process of how those cases could come before the Supreme Court and what the court would do if it chose to take it up.

“It’s not just a vote. You all do that. You all have a policy and you cast a vote. The judicial process is different,” Barrett explained.

“So when it comes to your personal views…do you own a gun?” Graham asked.

“We do own a gun,” Barrett replied.

“Do you think you could fairly decide a case even though you own a gun?” Graham said.

“Yes,” Barrett said.

Graham went on to ask the same question with regard to her Catholic faith and beliefs. Again Barrett said she could put her personal views aside and that she had done so in her current job.

Enter CNN with this update on the confirmation hearing:

The CNN update leaves out all of the context I provided above. We only get the the exchange where Graham asks if Barrett owns a gun plus this analysis:

The Supreme Court has gone a decade without acting on a major case concerning the Second Amendment, an issue that could receive rare attention in the future by the high court should Judge Amy Coney Barrett be confirmed to the bench in the coming weeks.

The court has resisted taking up a significant Second Amendment case since the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller – which held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm – and a 2010 follow-up, turning away 10 gun rights cases in the last term alone.

Should the Senate confirm Barrett, who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she could provide the extra vote Justice Clarence Thomas has been advocating for to take up Second Amendment cases.

It seems CNN really is suggesting that the fact Barrett’s family owns a gun means she’s a lock on this issue. Jonah Goldberg pointed out how silly this argument was:

Here’s the full exchange between Graham and Barrett:

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