Sen. Heller Appears To Block Judge Because She Is Insufficiently Activist On Guns

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

In 1939, the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment only protects state militias — not an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. This decision remained good law until June of 2008, when it was overruled by the Court’s landmark decision in District of Columbia v. Heller. Which is why when Nevada Judge Elissa Cadish was asked whether she believes the Second Amendment protects such an individual right to firearms before the Heller decision came down, she gave the correct answer under then-existing Supreme Court precedent: “I do not believe that there is this constitutional right.” Any other answer would have been inappropriate since, as a sitting judge, she was obligated to follow the decisions of higher courts.

Flash forward four years, and Judge Cadish is a nominee to a federal court in Nevada, where she will fill a seat deemed a “judicial emergency” by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts due to state’s increasingly unmanageable federal caseload. Unfortunately, Nevada’s junior Sen. Dean Heller (R) appears more interested in using Cadish’s ability to accurately describe binding Supreme Court precedent against her than he is in actually making sure his state’s citizens have access to swift and necessary justice:

According to Capitol Hill sources, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee came across the 2008 questionnaire [regarding the Second Amendment] when they were researching Cadish and reviewing her answers to a committee survey.

The GOP staff took the matter to Heller, who took it to Reid. The Senate majority leader then asked Cadish to explain.

Reid said Cadish’s nomination “cannot proceed without Sen. Heller’s support, and starting this process over with a new nominee is likely to leave this vacancy open for many more months.”

“Nevadans will be left with a crippled court system we cannot afford,” Reid said in a statement. “I very much hope Sen. Heller reconsiders his decision.”

At this very moment, while Heller appears to be using a Cadish’s completely noncontroversial description of previous law to score political points, thousands of Nevadans await justice in the state’s increasingly clogged federal judiciary. They likely include both workers who were wrongly fired and businesses who cannot afford to hire until after the looming threat of a meritless lawsuit is removed by a judicial decision. If Heller has a legitimate objection to Judge Cadish, then he should voice it. But there is no excuse for punishing a judge — and the people of Nevada — because the judge knows how to follow the law.