NH GOP - Shea-Porter Makes a Curious Legal Argument

CONCORD – For the second time in as many weeks, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter has cited state’s rights to explain why she is the only member of NewHampshire’s congressional delegation not to sign the amicus brief supporting Second Amendment rights in the Supreme Court case challenging the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns.

On WMUR’s “CloseUp” program broadcast yesterday, Shea-Porter said she viewed the DC gunban as a state’s rights issue. This is consistent with her spokeman’s explanation, quoted in the Union Leader on March 10, that Shea-Porter “respects the rights of the states…to enact the laws that are best for their people.”

“The state’s rights argument was used to justify slavery and, more recently, racial segregation. Thus it seems especially unusual for a liberal ideologue like Shea-Porter to cite state’s rights as a defense of anything,” said Fergus Cullen, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party.

“Most Americans believe the question of whether state’s rights or the Constitution prevails was settled with the Civil War. I’m not sure Congresswoman Shea-Porter understands that the Constitution trumps state laws,” Cullen said.

“Does Shea-Porter believe that First Amendment issues involving free speech or freedom of religion are up to the states to decide? That some states can allow slavery in defiance of the Thirteenth Amendment, or prevent African Americans from voting on account of their race in defiance of the Fourteenth Amendment, or deny the right to vote on account of gender in defiance of the Nineteenth Amendment?” Cullen asked.

“If Congresswoman Shea-Porter opposes the right to bear arms, she should just say so. But surely she doesn’t really believe the Second Amendment is up to the states to interpret as they see fit,” Cullen said.

Fact Sheet:

From the Union Leader’s Granite Status column, March 10, 2008:

“[Shea-Porter’s] spokesman, Clark Pettig, said that [Shea-Porter] ‘is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and she also respects the rights of states, or in this case the District of Columbia, to enact the laws that are best for their people. Because two fundamental principles of our Constitution are at odds,’ Shea-Porter believes ‘that this issue should be resolved bythe judicial branch as our Founders intended.’"

Fergus Cullen

Chairman, New Hampshire Republican Party

10 Water Street

Concord , NH 03301