Back in 2009, when President Obama chose Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his first Supreme Court nominee, the White House expected that her compelling personal story, sterling credentials, and experience both as a prosecutor and, for 17 years, as a federal judge would win broad bipartisan support for her nomination. There was, in fact, no plausible reason for any senator to vote against her.
The president’s hope was Senator Mitch McConnell’s fear. In order to shore up his caucus, the Senate Republican leader asked a favor of his friends at the National Rifle Association: oppose the Sotomayor nomination and, furthermore, “score” the confirmation vote. An interest group “scores” a vote when it adds the vote on a particular issue to the legislative scorecard it gives each member of Congress at the end of the session. In many states, an N.R.A. score of less than 100 for an incumbent facing re-election is big trouble.
Note that the N.R.A. had never before scored a judicial confirmation vote. Note also that Sonia Sotomayor had no record on the N.R.A.’s issues. (True, she voted with an appeals court panel to uphold New York State’s ban on nunchucks, a martial-arts weapon consisting of two sticks held together with a chain or rope, commonly used by gang members and muggers. The appeals court didn’t even reach the interesting issue of whether the Second Amendment guaranteed the right to keep and bear nunchucks, ruling instead that the amendment didn’t apply to the states – which, before the Supreme Court later ruled otherwise by a vote of 5 to 4, it didn’t.)
Never mind. The N.R.A. had all the reason it needed to oppose Sonia Sotomayor: maintenance of its symbiotic relationship with the Republican Party. Once it announced its opposition and its intention to score the vote, Republican support for the nominee melted away. Only seven Republicans voted for confirmation.
I wrote about the subject of the NRA and the Supreme Court recently - I had not been aware of the big change in focus from "well-regulated militia" to personal gun rights that happened four years ago - Greenhouse references it in her piece - because I hadn't been paying attention.
The NRA is like Sauron - it never sleeps, just keeps looking, looking for its Precious - which, in this case, is a final victory that would mean the right of any American to own any type of gun and to carry it at all times and everywhere. After purchasing the gun without background checks.
And like Sauron, it cannot be reasoned with - it is just plain evil and must be stopped.