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Retired Justice Stevens suggests Supreme Court may advance gun rights

Think ProgressAccording to Liptak, Stevens “helped persuade Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was in the majority, to ask for ‘some important changes’ to Justice Scalia’s opinion.”

The result was a passage providing that Heller should not “be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

First the factual aspect. Assuming it's accurate, it confirms something the gun rights community has long suspected. (I don't particularly doubt the accuracy of the claim, although Stevens may be overstating his own role as as persuasive force...)

Think ProgressThe upshot of Stevens’ highly unusual revelation — justices, even retired justices, rarely disclose internal Court deliberations — is that there are probably no longer five votes on the Supreme Court who support this language in Heller. A wide range of firearm restrictions intended to keep firearms out of the hands of especially dangerous individuals or to keep them out of “sensitive places such as schools” could soon fall.

Now the facts.

We don't know where the current court sits on gun rights. Roberts has demonstrated squishy behavior before. Kennedy was replaced with Kavanaugh, presumably a solid 2nd Amendment vote, but Trump's first pick Gorsuch replaced Scalia (solid pro-gun vote) with a presumably solid pro-gun vote. Neither Kavanaugh nor Gorsuch have really been tested yet and Roberts is untrustworthy. We're probably better off with Kennedy replaced. But we need to win one more to feel secure, and even then, we can't count on the new Justices until we see how they vote.

Since Stevens is clearly trying to stoke panic here, let me rebut.

Gun free zone laws around schools have stopped precisely zero school shootings. As with other places declared gun free, criminals view them as soft targets. The only people deterred from carrying in such zones are the honest, law-abiding people who you would want to have a gun in case of such an attack.

"Laws intended to keep firearms out of the hands of especially dangerous individuals" has a couple possible meanings. Do they mean felons? Most felons will be able to get a gun as easily as they can get drugs, ie, illegally. Challenges to the core of felon-in-possession laws seem unlikely in the near future, though we will likely see nibbles around the edges for people acting in self-defense, whose crimes were not violent in nature, and who have been rehabilitated into society. Do they mean people like the Parkland shooter, who should have been on the naughty list but was not due to law enforcement failures? Law enforcement will have failures no matter what laws you pass. Do they mean people like the man who died at the hands of police in Maryland recently? How many innocent people need to die because one of their in-laws didn't like them owning a gun?

Thu Nov 29 07:47:19 CST 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Trump nominates Kavanaugh

Sebastian quoting KavanaughIn my judgment, both D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional under Heller.

In Heller, the Supreme Court held that handguns – the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic – are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens. There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi- automatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses. Moreover, semi- automatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are. It follows from Heller’s protection of semi-automatic handguns that semi-automatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that D.C.’s ban on them is unconstitutional. (By contrast, fully automatic weapons, also known as machine guns, have traditionally been banned and may continue to be banned afterHeller.)1

Aside from the bit of dicta about machine guns, which is probably an unfortunate necessity at this point, that's a fairly solid position. We still don't know who was the weak point on the court preventing 2nd Amendment cases from being heard and decided properly, but if it was Kennedy, his replacement will be a positive change. We can't be certain of forward progress until at least one of the remaining left-wing judges is replaced.

I don't claim to have looked into this set of nominees closely, simply for lack of time and interest. Some think Hardiman or Kethledge would have been better on the 2nd. That may be true. But I think Kavanaugh will be willing to advance the court's jurisprudence in this issue in the right direction, and that's enough.

Categories Supreme Court

Tue Jul 10 10:50:17 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Justice Kennedy announces retirement

Power Line has the details, along with inappropriate snark about him being the Chief Justice. He's not. Roberts is. The retirement is effective July 31st, meaning we have a month or so to argue about who replaces him. Some on the left are already screaming about Gorsuch, but holding an open seat on the Supreme Court for more than two years and then hoping to win the election may be a bridge too far. I expect the Democrats will try to hold past the midterms in the hopes of getting the Senate majority, which would allow them to completely block a replacement justice and force Trump to bargain with his nominee.

Whether McConnell will allow them to do that is another matter.

The Democrats are already going nuts, with mob violence and stalking of administration officials, pervasive threats from deranged individuals, and even occasional acts of politically motivated violence. This will only raise the stakes. They are going to go batshit crazy.

Categories Supreme Court

Wed Jun 27 14:05:13 CDT 2018 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]


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