Tony Perkins is a powerful man. He's the head of the Family Research Council, which is very influential among evangelicals. The FRC is strongly pushing (while carefully not endorsing) Sam Alito. Here's the latest Washington Update:
Liberal senators keep coming back to Judge Alito's ruling in United States v. Rybar. That's the case where Alito said Congress did not act properly when it passed a law banning possession of machine guns. This opinion earned Alito the nickname "Machine Gun Sammy" from liberal gun control advocates. And we've heard again and again during the Roberts hearings and this week how moderate, how excellent, how "pivotal" has been Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's service on the Supreme Court. Now it appears that O'Connor's opinion on a very similar gun case sounds oddly like, well, Sam Alito's. You be the judge:
O'Connor: Congress cannot prohibit the possession of handguns near schools because mere possession is not commerce. U.S. v. Lopez (1995).
Alito: Congress cannot prohibit the possession of machine guns because mere possession is not commerce. U.S. v. Rybar (1996).
U.S. v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 115 S.Ct. 1624 does discuss "mere possession": "The Court thus interpreted the statute to reserve the constitutional question whether Congress could regulate, without more, the 'mere possession' of firearms." Perkins doesn't use quotes when attributing a statement to O'Connor, so that's not the lie. The lie is attributing anything to O'Connor at all.
O'Connor didn't write an opinion. Rehnquist wrote the decision. O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined the Rehnquist's decision. Kennedy filed a concurring opinion, which O'Connor also joined.
Rybar (brief portion of case) is a different kettle of fish. In Lopez, the Supreme Court put limits on Congress's ability to regulate conduct based on the Commerce Clause. (Super-condensed commerce clause history: pre-Great Depression, Congress couldn't regulate much of anything. From the Great Depression through 1996, Congress could regulate pretty much anything based on the conduct's nexus with interstate commerce. In Lopez (1996), the Supreme Court said "this commerce clause power has gone too far". Thomas and Scalia would like to roll back Congressional authority dramatically. Kennedy and O'Connor wanted to put some limits on Congressional power. The Court's liberals would let Congress regulate pretty much any conduct.) In Rybar, Alito opens with a great display of judicial temperament: "Was United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 131 L.Ed.2d 626 (1995), a constitutional freak?" Then goes on to argue that Congress failed to demonstrate that machine guns have an effect on interstate commerce.
If Alito is right, and the mere possession of a machine gun does not affect interstate commercial, what about the mere possession of heroin, meth, or pot? Would Alito judge the federal drug laws unconstitutional? Would Alito bar Congress from passing limits on the recognition of marriage? If so, would the FRC still love him so very, very much? Or would Alito be an activist?then be pleased with Alito? Or would they