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How the NRA Seeks to Influence the Makeup of the Federal Bench

Posted Jan 9, 2013 7:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Corrected: The National Rifle Association doesn’t confine its lobbying to proposed legislation affecting gun rights.

The group also seeks to influence the nominations of federal judges, the Associated Press reports. “Still in its early stages,” the story says, “the effort is a safety net to ensure that federal courthouses are stocked with judges who are friendly to gun rights, should gun restrictions somehow get through the group’s first line of defense on Capitol Hill.”

The NRA didn’t succeed when it opposed the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it was able to block two nominees to the federal bench last year, including New York State’s former solicitor general, Caitlin Halligan, nominated for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The NRA “exacted its revenge” when Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., supported Sotomayor and Kagan, the story says, spending $200,000 to support his successful primary opponent. But the group gave nearly $100,000 to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., after he helped the NRA last year block a nominee to the bench in his state, Elissa Cadish.

Last week, President Obama renewed his nomination of both Halligan and Cadish.

Corrected at 7:05 a.m. to indicate that Lugar supported Sotomayor and Kagan.

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