The Democrats Are Lying About the Supreme Court in 'Cargill' Case, and They Know It

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Last week, the Supreme Court struck down a Trump-era bump stock ban in the landmark Garland v. Cargill case. The left has been screeching about gun control ever since, with one Democratic senator even accusing the nation's highest court of attempting to "rewrite the Second Amendment."


Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, is extremely miffed about last week's decision. But Murphy, along with the rest of the left, is knowingly lying about the Cargill case and what it was actually about and actually means for government power. My RedState colleague Ward Clark wrote about Murphy's comments over the weekend.

READ MORE: Senator Chris Murphy: Wrong on Bump Stocks, Wrong on Guns, Wrong on 2nd Amendment, Wrong for America

Notably, for people like Murphy who are treating this as though it were a Second Amendment case, the word "amendment" (much less the phrase "Second Amendment") doesn't even appear in the opinion. The case was about statutory law and non-legislative regulation. Murphy and the Democrats, who are screaming about Donald Trump being the death of Democracy, are railing against the Supreme Court taking power away from unelected bureaucrats and sending it back to democratic, legislative bodies.

Congress can absolutely pass a law redefining the term "machine gun" to include guns equipped with bump stocks. When laws are written, terms have to be defined within the law in order to properly categorize items, actions, etc. That is how regulation via legislation happens. Congress, over the course of decades, has decided to abdicate that responsibility to unelected federal agencies. The result is that Congress will pass a broad law and those agencies will change definitions themselves, even going so far as to assume powers to do so the agencies themselves haven't been granted by Congress.


This has come to a head before - notably in the EPA v. West Virginia case from a couple of years ago - and is likely to really be revisited as the Supreme Court's conservatives creep closer and closer to overturning Chevron deference.

Which brings us back to Cargill.

Originally, Congress did appear set to work on legislation to expand the definition of "machine gun" to include bump stocks. The momentum on that stopped, however, when the Trump administration's ATF unilaterally changed regulations to include bump stocks without the accessory being defined as a machine gun. Unelected bureaucrats essentially usurped congressional authority and did something themselves, which is about as undemocratic as you can get in such a situation.

The Supreme Court's conservatives noted that such a move was an "about face," considering the numerous times previously that the agency had decided guns equipped with bump stocks did not meet the statutory definition.

A law is not useless merely because it draws a line more narrowly than one of its conceivable statutory purposes might suggest. Interpreting §5845(b) to exclude semiautomatic rifles equipped with bump stocks comes nowhere close to making it useless. Under our reading, §5845(b) still regulates all traditional machineguns. The fact that it does not capture other weapons capable of a high rate of fire plainly does not render the law useless. Moreover, it is difficult to understand how ATF can plausibly argue otherwise, given that its consistent position for almost a decade in numerous separate decisions was that §5845(b) does not capture semiautomatic rifles equipped with bump stocks.


Again, there is nothing in the majority's opinion about the Second Amendment. This is about statutory law and regulatory power outside of the legislative branch. The Democrats know this, but they can't bring themselves to admit it: To admit it is to admit that their preferred method of governance - through bureaucratic fiat - is flawed and ultimately unconstitutional. It's an attack on their power, and they are working to delegitimize the Supreme Court and other institutions that pose a threat to their power. 

They are lying to you, and the Supreme Court absolutely got it right.



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