The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court met in conference on Friday to discuss dozens of cases currently under consideration for review by the Court, including ten cases dealing with the right to keep and bear arms. This is the second conference held since the court sidestepped a substantive ruling in in a challenge to a New York city gun law in April, and the justices could announce as early as Monday that they’ve agreed to hear one or more of the cases.
NBC News reports that the head of Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun law firm believes that SCOTUS is most likely to pick a case dealing with the right to carry.
Eric Tirschwell, the managing director for Everytown Law, an anti-gun violence group, said that it’s most likely that the court will take up one of the cases it’s considering about public carry permits.
He said he was optimistic that a majority of the court would reject the “extreme” positions taken by the NRA and other gun rights groups.
“From what he current justices have written on the Second Amendment, it is far from clear that there is a majority of five votes in favor of this extreme view of the Second Amendment,” Tirschwell said. “Chief Justice John Roberts is certainly a big, if not the biggest, question mark.”
I think Tirschwell’s trying to engage in a little preemptive spin here. If gun control advocates were really optimistic about a Supreme Court ruling on the right to bear arms, I don’t think they would have persuaded officials to change the New York City law in question in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. New York City in order to avoid a ruling by SCOTUS. Tirschwell is right that Chief Justice Roberts is probably the biggest question mark, but given the fact that Roberts was in the majority in the Heller and McDonald decisions that struck down handgun bans in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, I think the odds are still pretty good that Roberts would side with the plaintiffs in cases challenging “good cause” requirements for carry licenses.
While the justices have several cases dealing with the right to bear arms to choose from, there are a number of other cases dealing with other attacks on the right to keep and bear arms that justices could also agree to hear. Here’s a quick peek at all of the 2A-related cases the Supreme Court heard in conference on Friday.
Mance v. Barr is a case challenging the ban on interstate sales of handguns.
Pena v. Horan is a challenge to California’s microstamping law, which took effect in 2012 and has curtailed not only the availability of new models of handguns, but has caused existing models of handguns to be barred from being sold in the state.
Rogers v. Grewal, Cheeseman v. Polillo, and Ciolek v. New Jersey all deal with challenges to New Jersey’s carry laws and “justifiable need” requirement for a carry permit, while Malpasso v. Pallozzi takes on similar requirements in the state of Maryland.
Culp v. Raoul challenges an Illinois law barring residents from 45 other states from applying for a non-resident concealed carry license, while Wilson v. Cook County takes on the Illinois county’s ban on modern sporting rifles.
There are also two cases out of Massachusetts being considered by the Court; a challenge to Massachusetts’ carry laws called Gould v. Lipson, and Worman v. Healey, a challenge to the state’s ban on so-called assault weapons.
Finally, there’s Beers v. Barr, a case dealing with the lifelong prohibition on firearms for those who’ve been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
I too think it’s likely that the Court will accept a case dealing with the right to bear arms, and it’s possible that the justices could agree to hear more than one challenge, combining multiple cases into a single challenge. SCOTUS could also combine the two cases challenging bans on so-called assault weapons, and unlike the New York City case that was recently declared moot by the Supreme Court, it’s highly unlikely that lawmakers in New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Illinois would change their carry laws or un-ban modern sporting rifles in an attempt to avoid scrutiny by the High Court.
It’s also possible that no new Second Amendment cases will be announced by the Court when its orders are released on Monday morning, but if that happens, I suspect the delay will only be a temporary one. We already have four justices who are on the recordin support of hearing a case dealing with the right to keep and bear arms, and that’s all that it takes for the Supreme Court to hear a case. The big issues at the moment appear to be what case or cases the Court will pick, and how soon they’ll do so, not whether or not the justices will agree to hear a case at all.