Fact Check: Dick Blumenthal Misquotes Judge Amy Coney Barrett Opinion in Kanter on Felons and Firearms


VERDICT: FALSE. Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) was quoting a speech, not a judicial opinion — and he did so out of context.

Sen. Blumenthal tried to portray Judge Barrett as “radical” on the question of the Second Amendment during her confirmation hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

In so doing, he challenged her dissent in Kanter v. Barr, in which she argued — based on an originalist reading of statutes and precedents — that while the government had a strong interest in keeping guns out of the hands of violent felons, the scope of that power had not been interpreted in the past to include non-violent felons as well, absent a showing that they would be dangerous.

The following exchange occurred:

Blumenthal: In fact, you characterized it as “kind of radical.” It is, in fact, an outlier. And it is, in fact, radical.

Barrett: Did I say it was “radical” in the opinion?

Blumenthal: I think you said, quote, “It sounds kind of radical to say felons can have firearms.” That’s a direct quote.

Barrett: Oh. I didn’t remember that particular language. … I’m not — I just don’t recall it, but I’m not nitpicking about it.

Blumenthal: We can look it up.

We did look it up, and Blumenthal was wrong.

Nowhere in the entire text of Kanter does the word “radical” appear. (Blumenthal clearly had not read the case.)

The source for Blumenthal’s quote appears to be a BBC article about Barrett’s views:

Speaking about her dissent to students at Hillsdale College last year, Judge Barrett said while it “sounds kind of radical to say felons can have firearms”, she found no “blanket authority” to take guns away from Americans without showing the individual was a danger.

Viewed in context, where Barrett was explaining a concept to students, Barrett was arguing that while it “sounds” radical to say that “felons” should be able to own firearms, a legal analysis would show that it was not radical to separate non-violent felons from violent felons.

Hillsdale College

What was bizarre, she suggested, was the proliferation of petty felonies that could endanger citizens’ liberties.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.