NSSF, the firearms industry trade association, posted a release expressing “profound disappointment and frustration” by the U.S. Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) refusal to accept any of nearly a dozen Second Amendment-related appeals.
The Supreme Court requires four justices to agree to hear an appeal at the nation’s highest court. Four justices, including Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Thomas Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh all expressed concern over the court’s decade long unwillingness to address infringements on Second Amendment rights. Justice Thomas previously noted, “…the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this Court.” That pattern has not altered with today’s petition denials. Justice Thomas, again, drew attention to this fact in his dissent.
“But today, faced with a petition challenging just such a restriction on citizens Second Amendment rights, the Court simply looks the other way,” Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent.
“What is clear is the four associate justices could have likely voted to hear any of the ten petitions, but not all four chose to bring the cases before the court,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “It makes one wonder if one or more of the other conservative justices are disinclined to accept Second Amendment cases because they lack confidence that Chief Justice Roberts, the swing vote on these firearm-related cases, could be trusted to interpret the Second Amendment as written, or faithfully apply the precedence of the Heller and McDonald decisions, both of which he ruled in the (5-to-4) majority.”
The NSSF filed amicus briefs on two of the cases denied by the Supreme Court. Those cases, Worman v. Healey and Mance v. Barr, centered on fundamental rights to acquire firearms to exercise the right to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court’s denial lets stand Massachusetts ban on commonly-owned modern sporting rifles and a ban on the sale of handguns across state lines. No other fundamental constitutional right ends at a state’s border. The court also denied Pena v. Horan, a challenge to California’s Unsafe Handgun Act that bans handguns in common use for lawful purposes which the firearm industry trade association was closely monitoring.
“The court is ignoring its own precedents and the willful ignorance of lower courts to apply precedence of the landmark 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald decisions,” Keane explained. “Heller protected the pre-existing common law individual rights to possess and carry on your person firearms that are in ‘common use.’ Nearly 18 million sporting rifles are in circulation today, used for lawful purposes daily, including recreational target shooting, hunting and self-defense. McDonald found that Second Amendment rights are enforceable against states seeking to deny those rights of law-abiding citizens. As several Justices have written in recent years, both precedents are being badly misinterpreted by the lower appellate courts, or as Justice Thomas believes blatantly ignored. Now, a dozen years since Heller, what is abundantly clear is the Roberts-led Supreme Court is allowing the Second Amendment to be treated as a constitutional orphan.”
Photo courtesy Getty