“Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of the Gun Lobby”: Newsom Attacks Federal Judge Who Ruled In Favor Of Gun Rights

Remember when networks and legal experts (correctly) denounced President Donald Trump for his attacks on judges who ruled against him? Two years ago, I ran a column noting that Democrats were adopting the same attacks on conservative judges but the media was entirely silent. Now, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democrats are lambasting a federal judge who ruled in favor of gun rights in a recent decision — accusing him of being in the pocket of the NRA and a danger to the country.  The response to Newsom’s attack from all of those same media and legal experts has ranged from outright support to conspicuous silence.

We recently wrote about the decision of U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez to strike down the ban on “assault weapons.”  In Miller v. Bonta, Benitez found that the ban on weapons like the AR-15 is based on both a misunderstanding of the weapons and a misinterpretation of the Constitution.  I previously discussed many of the same issues surrounding the AR-15 which remains one of the most popular weapons in the United States

The recent decision led to a barrage of personal attacks from Newsom, state Attorney General Rob Bonta and legal experts.  Newsom called Benitez a “stone-cold ideologue” who writes “press releases on behalf of the gun lobby.”  He warned that everyone needs to “call this federal judge out” because “he will continue to do damage.”

Benitez has indeed ruled for gun owners in the past.  However, he was upheld in that decision (which is still on appeal). In 2017, he struck down the state’s nearly two-decade-old ban on the sales and purchases of magazines holding more than 10 bullets. As recently discussed, the Ninth Circuit upheld his decision, which is now scheduled to be reheard by an 11-member panel. These cases have a very strong chance for review before the Supreme Court given the division across the country and the 6-3 conservative majority on the Court.

One can have good-faith reasons to disagree with both decisions.  Indeed, I am all in favor of passionate and pointed analysis of judicial rulings. Moreover, there are occasions where a judge’s personal bias is an issue.  Despite previously praising Judge Emmet Sullivan, I wrote columns that later criticized him for what appeared bias in his handling of the Flynn case. This is not such a case. Newsom is attacking this judge because he ruled in favor of gun rights arguments that are supported by many judges, lawyers, and citizens. These arguments have never been rejected by the Supreme Court. Indeed, he was relying on strong case law in favor of the Second Amendment claims raised by the litigants.

It is the strikingly different response to the attacks on the judge that caught my attention. As discussed in the earlier column, legal experts expressed outrage over attacks by Trump of judges as “Obama judges” or “political judges” during his term. There was however no push back on Democratic members denouncing “Trump judges” and “Trump Justices.”  Esquire magazine published a column denouncing judges who ruled against ObamaCare, declaring that the Republican arguments “don’t need to make sense. They just need the right judges — and they’re everywhere in the federal judicial system.” One Nation article explained how Trump jurists “swarming our judicial system . . . will linger, like an infected wound poisoning the body politic.” CNN ran headlines about “Republican-appointed judges” supporting the ObamaCare challenge, while Democratic members of Congress denounced federal judges’ rulings for the Trump administration as examples of why new judges must be appointed by Democrats.

Benitez ruled on arguments that have long been discussed by many of us as raising serious questions over the constitutionality of these laws. Again, one can disagree with the arguments but they are not fringe or fanciful positions. Indeed, Newsom’s demand for an appeal may be great news for the gun rights groups. Liberal states and cities have repeatedly pushed appeals that resulted in magnifying their losses. The District of Columbia is a great example of such poor choices in triggering the decisions in Heller. Later the Supreme Court expanded on its pro-gun rights case law in  McDonald v. City of Chicago. The Supreme Court just took up a new major gun rights case out of New York.

Benitez and his family fled communist Cuba and remains a powerful American success story.  He was able to get through law school as a first generation American. Benitez was confirmed 98-1 and had the strong support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats. (Only Sen. Dick Durban voted against him). Feinstein rejected the negative review of the ABA based on his “temperament” and noted that her own inquiries found that lawyers “say he is a man of the highest ethical standard, that he has superb demeanor, intelligence, pragmatism, and fairness. And the chief public defender notes that he has good judicial temperament and is courteous to his employees and the attorneys who appear before him.”

Newsom’s attack omits that Benitez was upheld by other judges in his earlier decision. That does not mean that the opinion is manifestly right (Indeed, it is being appealed). However, the opinion advanced well-established arguments and authority in reaching its conclusion. A majority on the Supreme Court would likely agree with much of the opinion. It is not about him. It is about the law.  That is why I criticized Trump for his attacks on judges and why we should be equally critical of Newsom and Democratic leaders doing the same thing now.

35 thoughts on ““Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of the Gun Lobby”: Newsom Attacks Federal Judge Who Ruled In Favor Of Gun Rights”

  1. Newsome’s a fascist incensed that people actually control their own lives. Guns in the hands of free men stand in his tyrannical way. The Dims are a cancer on the body politic. Nuck Fewsome and all of his ilk. We’ll have our reckoning soon enough. It’s in the air.

  2. Aren’t the first 10 amendments the bill of rights. And aren’t these individual rights.

    1. And don’t the Constitution and Bill of Rights, deliberately, willfully and severely, limit and restrict Congress and all governmental branches, departments and agencies from diminishing, in any aspect and to any degree, those rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities?

      Free people self govern in the least amount.

      Enslaved people under communism strictly adhere to the whims and edicts of dictators and tyrants.

      The entire American welfare state is unconstitutional.

  3. This is ridiculous; kindergarten, sand box caterwauling.

    This is anti-American, anti-Constitution, fascist/communist bellicosity from direct and mortal enemies of the United States.

    America exists and persists under the dominion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    No court may find any other definition or status of the absolute right to keep and bear arms.

    No court may act arbitrarily or as an empowered dictator and tyrant by ignoring the literal, verbatim, manifest tenor of the 2nd Amendment.

    All Americans enjoy the right to keep and bear arms.


    No entity has any authority to deny that right or any portion thereof, or any of its essential facets and aspects, such as parts, components, ammunition and/or magazines.

    The right to keep and bear arms is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute.

    2nd Amendment

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

  4. Democrats think of judges as politicians and too many left-leaning judges have acted like politicians.

    It is no surprise that Democrats attack if a judge only renders a decision based on law rather than polling on Twitter, that is to say, when he acts like a judge.

  5. Gov Newsom appears to have a problem with any citizens lobbying on behalf of their Second Amendment rights.

    Most gun owners understand that bans on the AR-15 are indeed based upon misunderstanding of the weapon in question. The AR-15 is no M4, and is not a “weapon of war.” It is strictly a civilian weapon.

    This is what happens when politicians who don’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine legislate firearms.

    1. Newsom presides over a state that does not prosecute many crimes anymore. Prisons are regularly emptied. Anyone eligible for parole, even those with life sentences, may earn early release. Police budgets have been slashed. My own neighborhood has been informed that law enforcement response times may easily exceed 45 minutes.

      While the Democrat government ruling class have their walls and gates around their homes, and their law enforcement security, they push to enable as much crime as possible while simultaneously making the law abiding as helpless and defenseless as possible.

      The Left has long identified with criminals rather than law abiding citizens.

  6. The left claims that Americans do not have a right to bear arms even though the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution explicitly recognizes and protects that right. The same left, however, claims that Americans have a right to kill the unborn human beings they conceive in spite of the absence of any reference to such a right in the Constitution.

  7. Its interesting that Turley also mentions McDonald v. City of Chicago.

    While it extends Heller, it was more of the blanket ban over all pistols.

    Prior to McDonald, you couldn’t own or have a handgun in your possession if you were a Chicago Resident. You could own long guns (no assault weapons) and must have them registered.
    (No one did that)

    I for one welcome the appeal and hope this goes to SCOTUS.
    It will render the “assault weapons” bans in municipalities moot.

    1. Anon: “Prior to McDonald, you couldn’t own or have a handgun in your possession if you were a Chicago Resident. ”

      At least not unless you were a gangster.

      1. Hey Now!
        I was talking about legal gun ownership. Actually Aldermen could have pistols.
        I believe it was in 2012 just outside the Merchandise Mart’s warehouse, down by the river there’s an old rail bridge always up…
        A former soon to be indicted school board official committed suicide using a pistol he had prior to the ban but never turned in.

  8. Let’s have a real memory. Obama was the President who dramatically denounced, disparaged, and attempted to bully judges when he said it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary” step for the justices to overturn Obama care. He did the same in his SOTU when he criticized SCOTUS for Citizens United making untrue assertions about the result.

  9. Newsom is facing a recall. He needs a villain to deflect away from his terrible handling of the Wuhan virus.

    If it wasn’t this judge and the NRA, Newsom would be demonizing someone else for his failures. Democrats hate just about everybody so the list of potential villains is long: the NRA, guns, plastic straws, free speech advocates, the Koch Brothers; anti-abortionists; fossil fuel.

  10. Looking over the polling on this issue, depending on how the question is worded (which solicits a little outlying opinion), it basically averages out to about 60% supporting a ban on automatic and semi automatic weaponry in the States. So you start with about 40% support, amongst whom the “AR-15” is quite popular for the most part, so assuming there isn’t 100% support amongst that 40% who don’t support a ban (let’s say a 3 to 1, or 30% support for the position Benitez is upholding) we have a judge who is holding for a minority opinion. That’s the numerical reality despite the vociferous support of AR-15 fans. Those are just the numbers…

    But this is not surprising, no? It’s what Newsom is speaking to as well victims rights groups.

    Either way, writing about it today does keep us from asking whether you were in agreement with Barr’s subpoena on Apple to get dirt on Schiff and the Dems on the Intelligence Committee. What are your thoughts on that, JT? Did Barr seek your opinion on that little foray?


    1. Benitez is upholding) we have a judge who is holding for a minority opinion. That’s the numerical reality despite the vociferous support of AR-15 fans. Those are just the numbers…

      What principle are you using, concluding the judiciary should reach decisions on public opinion polls……instead of, oh gee, citing the law and applying precedents?

      This doesn’t even get into phony “polls’. Polls are commissioned (paid for) by some entity that wants to create, validate, support, some predetermined narrative (lie).
      The only exception is politicians ‘internal’ polls. With dozens of election prediction polls, complete with all the underlying data being availble for free. Politicians spend money for real, internal, polls to get an accurate appraisal of public leanings.

      despite the vociferous support of AR-15 fans.
      despite the vociferous support of rule of law fans.

      1. Sorry, there are no precedents for the AR-15 in the rule of law.


        1. “Sorry, there are no precedents for the AR-15 in the rule of law.”

          The Miller decision is SCOTUS precedent. Miller, when banning “sawed off” shotguns, stated in part, that weapons that have little utility in wars/armed conflict, and are not generally in use and widespread among the population, are not protected under the 2cnd amendment.

          Banning the most popular rifle in the Untied States would then be in violation of SCOTUS precedent.

        2. @Anonymous…
          Dude! If you’re going to keep on this, I’m going to have to create a name so people don’t confuse the anonymous posters.

          Do you actually know anything?

          The second amendment doesn’t specify any firearms. Just affirms the rights for the citizens to maintain arms.
          When you get to Heller and even McDonald v. City of Chicago. The courts have ruled that you can’t ban popular / commonly owned weapons.

          So yes there is a precedent in Heller and McDonald. Although McDonald dealt with the ban of all handguns in Chicago which led to the city getting a permit system.
          I still have a copy of mine which has long since expired.

            1. Tell me which part of Heller set precedent for a S&W .38 with a 2″ barrel.

  11. Just one more data point of why smart people get independent news sources (Turley, Greenwald, Weiss, WSJ) and ignore the media.

    We are tired of being lied to and being misled.

    Lefties are both the liars and the lied to.

  12. Of course I can deny people advancement, or college entrance, or govt loans based on their Race.

    Of course it is fine to attack Judges that Rule against my position.

    Except when you do it.

    Democrats. Always the same. A political part unencumbered by principles.

  13. Wasn’t Benitez a Bush appointee? Sort of throws out the Trump argument, doesn’t it?

  14. Yes, we should be equally critical of decisions based upon simple political points of view. How can those Senators who voted for his confirmation to his current post now decide that he’s a political hack, a wolf in sheep’s clothing? His decision simply reflects what the Constitution says, and what case law supports.

    1. Drives liberals nuts when a judge follows precedent that was not set by liberal judges. There was a great WSJ article when I was in law school in the late 80s that I wish I could find. It spoke of the “leftward ratchet” of the Supreme Court (the era when a new verb was invented–borking). The premise was that liberal judges legislate from the bench, then conservative judges come along and, as they do, follow precedent. Over time, though the court may be made up of a majority of Conservatives, the precedent they must follow was set by liberals. Wish I could find it because it was an interesting analysis.

      1. Suze,

        What drives the new libs nuts, is anyone who still believes in the Constitution of the United States and what the founders intended.

  15. Most of the mainstream media are wholly owned subsidiaries of the Dems.

      1. Wally,

        Interesting that you used Fox as an example of mainstream media owned by the Dems, but Fox is by far the least of the problem we have with media. No one is perfect, but you selected one of the very few networks that still have “any” journalistic integrity left.

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