In the wake of the recent spate of mass shootings, Americans on both sides of the gun issue, have been hoping for the Supreme Court to have an opportunity to weigh in on the contentious debate over the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment.
That opportunity may be coming sooner than you think!
There is the case that will soon be coming before the US Supreme Court soon which will consider the right to bear arms, something it hasn’t done for nearly a decade.
Given the current state of affairs regarding guns these days, the case in question has been getting very little media attention. The case tests the extent of limits that localities can place on gun owners. The particular case has pitted New York City against the New York State Pistol and Rifle Association over a law on transporting guns.
It’s up for review in the high court and scheduled for arguments in October.
However, the reason you have not heard a lot about this case is that New York City is claiming there is no point to have it brought before the Supremes, because, the law upon which the original case was brought in the lower courts, has already been changed.
NYC and it’s legal allies argue that there’s no controversy left for SCOTUS to resolve because the law in question has already been adjusted. So, complaints that the pistol association had about the constitutionality of original law are no longer valid.
The petitioners argued in the lower courts that they should be able to transport guns to second homes, shooting ranges, and shooting competitions, among other places. And now they can based on updated legislation.
However, the rifle association says there is still a live controversy and is eager for the high court to opine on the matter. The new law, they argue, offers no clarity on whether a person transporting personal firearms, from New York City to other places, is allowed to stop for “coffee breaks” while traveling, or take their firearms to other “vacation spots,” and not just their second properties.
Many Have Offered Their Opinions on the Case
There are dozens who want to get their voices heard regarding whether the court should or should not hear the case.
According to the Wall Street Journal, over 30 “friend of the court” briefs have been filed already, including from the Department of Justice, states, senators, members of Congress, social scientists, educators, gun-rights groups, gun-control activists, police, constitutional law professors, and even linguists.
But the objections that should be getting the most attention, and are not, are those filed on Aug. 12, by Democratic senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, which the WSJ editorial board has dubbed an “enemy of the court” brief.
These lawmakers argue that if the high court decides to opine on gun rights, despite the mootness of this case, it’ll be proving it is just a Republican party tool, controlled by the conservative legal group the Federalist Society, and working on an NRA project to expand gun rights.
The joint brief filed by the Democratic Senators, argues that conservatives generally, and the National Rifle Association and Federalist Society specifically, have been waiting for the court to be packed with enough reliably conservative justices to continue the “project” of bringing a case to the high court that will expand gun rights and make it impossible for states and cities to maintain public safety.
With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement last year and the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the timing was right, say the senators, citing NRA and Republican Party advertisements before and after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, that show the controversial justice would prevent the political left from taking away the public’s right to own guns.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board appears offended by the senators’ suggestion that the Federalist Society is behind the gun-rights fight. It’s also unhappy about the tone of their brief, which the board says is threatening to the justices and fails to acknowledge that the conservatives have not acted as a monolith, but in the last term often voted with the liberals to form a majority.
Why All the Fuss?
You may be wondering what all this fuss about. Shouldn’t the nation’s highest court give states and municipalities guidance on just how much they can or cannot regulate guns, without violating constitutional rights?
But, the bigger issue here is whether the case should be heard by the high court at all. While they may indeed be using it for a political purpose — that is at the core of the Democrats argument, and it could be a very valid one.
Whether a case is moot is no small question. The Constitution requires the courts to only hear matters involving “cases and controversies.” American judges do not write advisory opinions when there is no dispute — the Supreme Court does not serve as a council of learned elders for society to consult at will.
The Supreme Court is only supposed to settle disputes, and many people agree that there is no dispute here.