Why is the State Supreme Court Hearing Gun-Maker Lawsuit?

November 13, 2017

By State Senator Joe Markley

In early November, the Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court announced her decision to retire. This in itself is not a particularly startling, that is until you realize that Governor Malloy will now get to select his sixth state Supreme Court justice. That’s troubling. All of Governor Malloy’s appointments are dyed-in-the-wool liberals, who feel they have a duty to erase or modify laws that do not conform to their worldview.

In 2015, five unelected lawyers on the Supreme Court ruled that “Capital punishment has become incompatible with contemporary standards of decency in Connecticut.”

Sentences like that are why people hate lawyers. Whatever your opinions of the death penalty, that decision is a particularly haughty dismissal of the will of the people’s representatives. The court made a cultural decree, which neither the people nor their representatives can challenge. A mild word for such action is arrogance; a harsher but appropriate term is tyranny.

I fear with more activist justices, the Connecticut Supreme Court may continue to flaunt the plain text and intent of our laws. My fears gained relevance when, in September, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case against Remington, the gun company which manufactured the rifle used in the horrific Newtown massacre.

A Superior Court judge in Bridgeport ruled in favor of the gun company, citing a 2005 federal law which codifies simple logic that murder is committed by murderers, not manufacturers, and gun companies cannot be held liable for the crimes committed with their products—any more than a car company could be held liable for a terrorist running over his victims.

The 2005 law says that in cases when gun manufacturers and sellers intend their guns to be used for nefarious purposes, they are liable for damage settlements. That provision is obviously intended to prevent underworld arms traffickers from seeking shelter under the law’s protection.

This case is open and shut, and the law is clear, so why is the court hearing the case? My fear is that this is another example of liberal judges doing the dirty work for liberal legislators. Hillary Clinton and our own Senator Murphy have endorsed a back-door gun ban which would repeal the 2005 federal law and make guns unaffordable for all but the wealthy few. But passing legislation may be too hard, especially in the minority. Will the Connecticut Supreme Court do the heavy lifting for them? I’d be disappointed if it did—but I wouldn’t be surprised.