Bench Memos

NRO’s home for judicial news and analysis.

Setting the Record Straight in Arkansas


Earlier this week my organization, JCN, released the TV ad below in Arkansas highlighting the fact that politician Leslie Rutledge opposes the adoption of a “Stand Your Ground” law in Arkansas, a topic of considerable debate in the state and of interest to JCN given its other work on Second Amendment issues.


Rutledge’s response is even worse than I anticipated: She claims to support the right to self defense “whenever and wherever” necessary, which is quite simply not what Arkansas law currently provides, though she says that it does. 

It’s crystal clear that Rutledge opposed a “Stand Your Ground” law. Here’s what she told KFSM Channel 5 News when asked last year about the “duty to retreat” imposed by Arkansas law:


The rest of the interview is available here.  

In response to that interview, Arkansas Representative Nate Bell asked Rutledge on Facebook:

Leslie, did I understand your position on open carry and stand your ground correctly? Do you oppose both?

But Rutledge dodged the question, providing this mealy-mouthed non-answer:

Representative Nate Bell, as I mentioned in the interview, I am a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment as well as a gun owner. What I said, Representative, is that as Attorney General, I will defend and enforce the laws that you all in the legislature pass.

I expected Rutledge to spin her previous position after the TV ad went up, but I didn’t expect her to try to rewrite history. 

Rutledge now apparently says that if the legislature wants to add additional provisions to the law, she will work with them to make sure it is “accurate, unambiguous, and constitutionally sound.” I’m curious whom she plans to appoint as advisers, since, as Erick Erickson noted this morning on RedState, Rutledge believes it would be discrimination “if you’re outright saying we’re going to hire conservative attorneys.”


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