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Lisa McElroy Headshot

My Plea to the Supreme Court

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I am flying to Belize today, getting ready to help the Mayan people there celebrate the end of the world.

When I left Philadelphia this morning, I did not think that it would really be the end of the world, but rather a welcoming in of a new era.

It turns out that I was wrong about the end of the world, but right about the new era. Because today, in Newtown, Connecticut, for many parents, teachers, and children, the end of the world has arrived, about a week ahead of schedule. And we're well into a new era, one in which news of a school shooting, or a theater shooting, or a mall shooting, is just an ordinary part of our morning news.

Anyone who knows me -- in fact, anyone who read my post on July 22, 2012, just after the Aurora shootings -- knows that I have two great loves in life: my children, and the Supreme Court. As I wrote back then, it's rare that these two passions intersect.

In fact, most Americans would say that the Supreme Court is almost never relevant in their lives, and certainly not relevant to their children's lives.

The school shootings over the past 13 years or so are evidence of just how wrong they are. Because the Supreme Court's decisions over the past four or five years have guaranteed the rights of most Americans to bear arms, and though those rights may be limited for people with certain kinds of documented mental illnesses or felony records, the Court's interpretation of the Second amendment to the United States Constitution has made it difficult to stop most gun sales before tragedy occurs.

Because I'm a Supreme Court expert, I'm often asked how many more Justices President Obama will have the opportunity to appoint. I don't know the answer, of course (Justices don't have to retire until they want to, and it's impossible to predict death or incapacity during life tenure), but I'd make an educated guess that lightning will strike at least twice over the next four years.

Because I'm a mother, I'm often asked how these school shootings make me feel. And I'll tell you how they make me feel. They make me feel unbelievably angry. No, unlike my Facebook friends who post that they're stunned, or in a state of disbelief, or saddened, or grieving, I'm just plain bullshit mad.

Because the Supreme Court expert in me is talking to the mother in me. And the Supreme Court expert in me knows that the only way to even think about stopping the carnage that the mother in me hates is to appoint Justices to the bench who believe that the Court's current interpretation of the Second Amendment is wrong. Even one new Justice who believed that guns were for militias, not individuals, could vote to change the law, perhaps for decades, perhaps for the entire rest of my children's lifetimes. And my worries about putting my children on the school bus would be much more about whether the bus would crash or some mean kid would bully them than about whether they'd come home in a body bag. And my children would only have to worry about whether my grandchildren would be able to teletransport themselves home safely at the end of the day instead of whether those grandchildren would fall to the floor in some public school classroom, full of bullet holes.

Honestly, folks, it's that easy. Put people in the Senate who will make gun rights and the Second Amendment the threshold question for whether a nominee is qualified. Forget abortion -- we've been fighting about that for 40 years, and nominees are just not going to answer that question. (Remember Clarence Thomas back in the '90s, who claimed he had never discussed Roe v. Wade?) Forget gay marriage -- the Court has already agreed to hear challenges to laws prohibiting recognition of it, and I predict that, by June, the Constitution will guarantee that anyone can marry the person she loves, just as our children already think she should be able to.

Vote for senators who will refuse to confirm a nominee who thinks it is OK for an individual to own a gun that can slaughter most of an elementary school. Who will think that the day a school shooting occurs is the absolute right time to talk about gun control. Who will, when the Supreme Court changes its interpretation of the Second Amendment -- and remember, it will only take ONE conservative Justice replaced by one liberal or moderate one -- vote to pass strict gun control laws, keeping guns out of the hands of those who would use them to hurt children, and parents, and teachers, and communities.

Otherwise, folks, we're looking at the end of the world.