This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on July 28, 2009
Gun owners are increasingly concerned with the White House’s citing of foreign law when it comes to gun rights. Look no further than the recent Senate confirmation of Professor Harold Koh to be State Department legal advisor in June. Koh, a committed transnationalist, is a passionate opponent of gun ownership.
Koh, recently the dean of Yale Law School, was confirmed as State Department Legal Advisor with 35 votes against him. He now becomes the top U.S. authority on international law, and the top advisor to the president and secretary of state about America’s obligations and treaty commitments with the United Nations and other countries.
Harold Koh is also one of the most far-left legal advocates anywhere in this country, on issues ranging from affirmative action to same-sex marriage to the reach of the federal government into people’s lives. While many on the Left believe that foreign law should be considered by American courts in interpreting the Constitution, as a true transnationalist, Koh believes that U.S. courts should directly cite foreign law to decide cases, and that foreign policy actions such as war-making are illegal without express U.N. approval.
There is no issue on which Koh is further from the mainstream, however, than the right to keep and bear arms. He openly advocates a global gun-control regime, run by the international community and based on foreign law, that would ban all handguns and subject all other firearms to draconian restrictions.
The Koh nomination is only one of three nominations thus far to push an extreme anti-gun agenda using foreign law.
Here’s a little history: Senate Democrats’ sustained opposition to John Bolton’s nomination as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. originated from his service as the undersecretary of state for arms control early in the Bush administration. Some aggressively pushed at the time for an international treaty banning handguns and severely restricting all private firearm ownership worldwide.
Bolton spoke at the U.N., declaring that the United States would never join a treaty that violated the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. That treaty never died, however. Anti-gun forces at the U.N. continue to push for adoption of this global gun ban treaty and for the U.S. to join it.
That’s why it’s important that Obama’s nominee as undersecretary of state for arms control is Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who was also confirmed on June 25. Tauscher is a fierce opponent of gun rights who holds an “F” rating by the National Rifle Association. Tauscher is the Obama administration’s point person on these pending gun ban treaties, advised by Koh.
The third nominee is Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. In addition to Judge Sotomayor’s support of using international law in U.S. courts, her longtime opposition to gun rights became a central issue in her confirmation battle.
Legal experts are all aware that Harold Koh is himself on the short list for the Supreme Court. Now that he holds this prestigious position, he could next be nominated for the D.C. Circuit federal appeals court.
After a year of service on the bench, then-Judge Koh, with his scholarly credentials, would be an ideal pick for President Obama to make the first Asian-American nominated to the High Court, where he would then be the most liberal justice in U.S. history.
Thus Harold Koh’s nomination becomes part of a broader pattern, where adherents of foreign law and extreme gun control intersect both at the U.N. and the Supreme Court. Supporters of American sovereignty and the Second Amendment had better join forces quickly, because this part of President Obama’s agenda is moving faster than many believed possible.