Supreme Court Ducks 2A Case, Justice Alito Dissents
While gun control advocates celebrated a Supreme Court decision today that dismissed a case from New York, there were enough hints of dissent within the ranks that there could be the possibility of a good 2A decision in the future. Justice Alito same down hard on the court for punting it back to a lower court.
The case involved a New York City law that restricted transportation of firearms outside the city limits. The city amended that law, making the original case moot. So the Supreme Court bumped it back to a lower court. Justice Alito issued a scathing dissent to the lack of a solid ruling.
Alito argued that the New York gun owners who sued over the original law didn’t get “all the prospective relief they seek” because there was still a lack of clarity in the new version of the law on what travel restrictions actually apply to gun owners. Gun owners under the new law are told they have to bring their guns directly between their homes and gun ranges they wish to practice at with only “reasonably necessary” stops.
“But the meaning of a ‘reasonably necessary’ stop is hardly clear,” Alito wrote. “What about a stop to buy groceries just before coming home? Or a stop to pick up a friend who also wants to practice at a range outside the City? Or a quick visit to a sick relative or friend who lives near a range? The City does not know the answer to such questions.”
Alito also noted that if the Supreme Court ruled the original law was unconstitutional, then the gun owners on the case could seek damages from the city for the violation of their rights.
On the actual merits of New York City’s now-replaced law, Alito made clear he thinks it violates the Second Amendment.
“This is not a close question,” he wrote.
“If history is not sufficient to show that the New York City ordinance is unconstitutional, any doubt is dispelled by the weakness of the City’s showing that its travel restriction significantly promoted public safety. Although the courts below claimed to apply heightened scrutiny, there was nothing heightened about what they did,” Alito said.
Alito continued, scolding the city over its arguments.
“In sum, the City’s travel restriction burdened the very right recognized in Heller,” Alito said, referring to the landmark gun rights case. “History provides no support for a restriction of this type. The City’s public safety arguments were weak on their face, were not substantiated in any way, and were accepted below with no serious probing. And once we granted review in this case, the City’s public safety concerns evaporated.”
Where’s the silver lining? Justice Neil Gorsuch went all in with Alito, agreeing in full. Justice Clarence Thomas agreed in part, and Justice Kavanaugh also wrote that the states were not doing enough to protect the Second Amendment, and hoped that in one of the next cases a clearer decision would be made to preserve it.
Read that: gun control advocates may have a problem if/when the Supreme Court actually decides to take a case on the 2A. Though they celebrated this decision, calling it a loss for the NRA, they are fully aware that enough of the rest of the court may side with gun rights next time.
“We remain concerned that a number of Justices appear to have an appetite to expand gun rights at the risk of Americans’ rights to enact the gun laws they want and need.Brady remains determined and vigilant in our fight for Americans’ right to live, and self-determination on public safety issues, a fight which is far from over.” Brady United President Kris Brown
Heads up, America. Keep fighting for your 2A rights.
Featured photo: Supreme Court building, photo by author