Supreme Court hears 3 gun cases
The Supreme Court on Friday will vote behind closed doors to accept three Second Amendment cases that could further define how minors, and adults, are allowed to carry a gun outside of their own homes.
Two of the cases involve the National Rifle Association, and they are NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and NRA v. McCraw.
The question posed by the NRA in the first case is, "Whether a nationwide, class-based, categorical ban on meaningful access to the quintessential means to exercise the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense can be reconciled with the Second Amendment, the equal protection guarantee, and this Court's precedents."
The main questions posed by the NRA in the second case are 1) if the Second Amendment right to bear arms includes the right to bear arms in public, 2) if responsible 18-to-20-year-olds can bear arms, and 3) if 18-to-20-year-olds can bear arms in public.
As Constitution Daily contributor Lyle Denniston wrote for us two weeks ago, in an analysis of the case basics, the "two cases [are] testing whether the federal government and the states can restrict the rights of minors to possess a gun outside the home." But the NRA also wants a Court ruling on if "the Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense in case of confrontation includes the right to bear arms in public."
Denniston said that one of the reasons the Supreme Court could take the cases "is that, in both, the federal appeals court came very close to creating an entirely new category of individuals ineligible to 'bear' arms, merely because of their age."
In both of the decisions at issue, the appeals court said it was "likely" that they were not protected at all under the Second Amendment, or under the separate parts of the Constitution that guarantee all individuals equal legal rights.
And a third case was added to the February 21 conference two weeks ago, Lane v. Holder, which is being mounted by the Second Amendment Foundation.
The question in the Lane case is, "Whether consumers have standing to challenge the constitutionality of laws regulating the sale of firearms."
The Lane case confronts the issue of gun purchasers having a right to sue to challenge federal gun laws that restrict their options of buying guns from dealers in different states.
Since the Supreme Court issued its ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010, it hasn't accepted new cases about the rights of gun owners. The McDonald case extended the decision in the 2008 Heller decisions to the states.
In District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and it struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home.
The Court's acceptance of any of the three gun cases would be significant, and the cases probably wouldn't be heard until its next term starts in October 2014. (The Court could say as soon as today or on Monday if it will grant the cases for arguments.)
It is request to the Court in the McCraw case, the NRA's counsel claims that lower courts have deliberately stalled in following the Court's decisions in Heller and McDonald.
"This massive judicial resistance to implementing this Court's Second Amendment decisions is particularly acute in challenges to laws restricting the right to carry a firearm in public," the petition says. "This case presents a prime example of this de facto rejection of Heller and McDonald by lower courts."
And same claim is made in the NRA v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms case.
"Jurisdictions have engaged in massive resistance to the clear import of those landmark decisions, and the lower federal courts, long out of the habit of taking the Second Amendment seriously, have largely facilitated the resistance," counsel claims in that petition
In the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Lane case, the Justice Department is arguing that a Supreme Court review isn't warranted. The state of Texas also wants their case denied by the Court and it is questioning the NRA's standing in the case.
Scott Bomboy is editor-in-chief at the National Constitution Center.
Philadelphia's National Constitution Center is the first and only nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to the most powerful vision of freedom ever expressed: the U.S. Constitution. Constitution Daily, the Center's blog, offers smart commentary and conversation about constitutional issues in the news, drawing insights from America's history and a variety of expert contributors.