SCOTUS To Hear First Second Amendment Case In Nearly A Decade

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York. The case represents the first Second Amendment issue the justices will hear since the landmark 2010 case of City of Chicago v. McDonald, which extended the establishment of the Second Amendment as securing an individual right from the federal government to the state governments. The legal question presented in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc., per SCOTUSblog, is "Whether New York City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the Commerce Clause, and the constitutional right to travel."

 

It is nothing less than momentous that the Supreme Court has finally agreed to hear a fresh Second Amendment challenge. For years, conservatives lamented what seemed to be a conscientious refusal by the justices to hear a fresh challenge post-McDonald. Justice Clarence Thomas, in various dissents to the denial of writs of certiorari in Second Amendment cases post-McDonald, repeatedly inveighed against what he saw as the Supreme Court's politically motivated belittling of the solemnity of the Second Amendment individual right. Here was Justice Thomas, dissenting last February from the Supreme Court's denial of a writ of certiorari in the Ninth Circuit-based Second Amendment case of Silvester v. Becerra:

If a lower court treated another right so cavalierly, I have little doubt that this Court would intervene. But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this Court...

As I have previously explained, the lower courts are resisting this Court's decisions in [District of Columbia v.] Heller and McDonald and are failing to protect the Second Amendment to the same extent that they protect other constitutional rights...

Nearly eight years ago [in McDonald], this Court declared that the Second Amendment is not a "second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees." By refusing to review decisions like the one below, we undermine that declaration.

 

The Supreme Court's less-than-sacrosanct treatment of the Second Amendment, post-McDonald, has not gone unnoticed by various lower court judges.

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog introduces news of the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in the following manner:

In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to have a handgun at home for self-defense. Two years later, the justices made clear that this right also applies against state and local governments. Since then the Supreme Court has repeatedly declined to say anything more about how far states and cities can go in restricting gun rights, but today it granted a plea to weigh in, this time in a case from New York City.

The request for review came from the New York State Pistol and Rifle Association and a group of gun owners who live in the city. They were challenging the city’s ban on transferring even licensed, unloaded guns anywhere outside the city limits – including to a weekend home or shooting range for target practice – restrictions they describe as "draconian." After the lower courts rejected their challenge and upheld the restrictions, the NYSPRA and gun owners went to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has indeed "repeatedly declined" to weigh in on Second Amendment issues, following the landmark McDonald decision. Nine years later, in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc., the justices now have a chance to begin to shift the tide back toward a vigorous enforcement of the Second Amendment's securing of an individual right that the justices previously promulgated in Heller and McDonald.

 

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