A democrat actually claimed that the Supreme Court, with five conservative justices was ‘sick,’ all because the group plans to address an unjust law passed by the City of New York that severely limited the Second Amendment.
Since the court is taking the case, it has stunned liberals. In fact, New York removed parts of the law it passed to try to avoid the case going before the high court… all to no avail.
So, the Supreme Court of the United States is geared up to decide on a very fundamental right, and the historic decision is terrifying to the left.
In fact, one rabid gun control advocate predicted ‘gloom and doom’… like gun ownership could be considered an “absolute right” without some bureaucratic body arbitrarily deciding whether a person is worthy to own or use a firearm. However, others hail the idea as salvation for the Republic.
For the last decade, the court has been wary of gun cases. In 2008 the court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an individual right.
Two years later, the court said that right applied to state laws, not just federal laws regulating gun ownership and use. Since then, however, there has been radio silence, as the justices have turned away one after another challenge to gun laws across the country. Until now.
On Monday the court hears argument in a case from New York, a city and a state with some of the toughest gun regulations in the country. Several gun owners and the NRA’s New York affiliate challenged the rules for having a handgun at home. They contended the city gun license was so restrictive it was unconstitutional.
Specifically, they said the state law and city regulations violated the right to bear arms because they forbid handgun owners from carrying their pistols anywhere other than seven firing ranges within the city limits. That meant that pistol owners could not carry their guns to a second home, or to shooting ranges or competitions in other states nearby. The lower courts upheld the regulations as justified to protect safety in the most densely populated city in the country.
But when the Supreme Court agreed to hear the gun owners’ appeal, the state and the city changed the law to allow handgun owners to transport their locked and unloaded guns to second homes or shooting ranges outside the city.
With those changes, the first question Monday will be whether the case is moot and should be thrown out because New York has already given the gun owners everything they asked for in their lawsuit.
“This is an instance where it appears the petitioners won’t say ‘yes’ for an answer,” says James Johnson, counsel for the City of New York.
But former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who represents the gun owners, counters that the amended regulations still give the city too much power to regulate.
“The City of New York never expressed any doubt about the constitutionality of these regulations when they were winning in the district court and the court of appeals,” argues Clement. “And then lo and behold, all of a sudden the city decides you know maybe we don’t need these regulations after all.”
And, he observes, the city is still defending the original regulations.
“I do think it will make a difference that Justice Kavanaugh is on the court,” says the gun owners’ Clement.
He notes that not only does Kavanaugh have a record sympathetic to broad gun rights, but that the new justice was constrained by the court’s precedents when he sat on the lower court.
“Now he can interpret the Constitution in a different way in his new perch,” says Clement. “He’s somebody who I would think is going to be receptive to arguments that the Second Amendment fully protects an individual right and is not strictly limited to the home.”
Citing the fact that the city scrambled to remove the language that caused the lawsuit, the Santa Fe New Mexican wrote:
“There is no case or controversy because New York City has repealed the ordinance and the New York state Legislature has acted to make sure it remains repealed,” said Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of the gun control group Brady’s legal action project.
Paul Clement, who represents three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate challenging the transportation ban, said in an email that among the reasons the case remains alive legally is that the court frowns on tactical moves of the sort employed by the city and state that are meant to frustrate the justices’ review of an issue.
In addition, he wrote, that “the City still views firearm ownership as a privilege and not a fundamental right and is still in the business of limiting transport and denying licenses for a host of discretionary reasons.”
In the event the court reaches the substance of the law, the city does contend that what it calls its “former rule” did not violate the Constitution. But that would seem to be a tough sell given the court’s makeup, with Gorsuch and, in particular, Kavanaugh on the court.
Kavanaugh voted in dissent when his federal appeals court upheld the District of Columbia’s ban on semi-automatic rifles.
“Gun bans and gun regulations that are not longstanding or sufficiently rooted in text, history, and tradition are not consistent with the Second Amendment individual right,” Kavanaugh wrote in 2011.
Gun control advocates worry that the court could adopt Kavanaugh’s legal rationale, potentially putting at risk regulations about who can carry guns in public, limits on large-capacity ammunition magazines and perhaps even restrictions on gun ownership by convicted criminals, including people convicted of domestic violence.
“This approach to the Second Amendment would treat gun rights as an absolute right, frozen in history, and not subject to any restrictions as public safety demands,” said Hannah Shearer, litigation director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Reflecting the possible high stakes, more than three dozen supporting legal briefs have been filed. The Trump administration, 25 mainly Republican states and 120 members of the House of Representatives are on the side of the gun owners.
A dozen Democratic-led states and 139 House lawmakers back the city. In addition, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a vocal court critic, filed a brief joined by four Senate Democratic colleagues that asked the justices to dismiss the case and resist being drawn into what he called a political project.
Whitehouse also included a warning to the justices. “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics,’” he wrote, quoting a public opinion poll showing support for such changes.
All 53 Republican senators responded with a letter urging the court not to be cowed by the Democrats’ threats.