This might be my favorite plot development in the ongoing soap opera that is 2020. Rapper Lil Wayne was arrested this week and is now facing federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The arrest stems from an incident in December of last year when a gold-plated gun was found in his luggage as police searched his private jet. Wayne, who was previously convicted of weapons charges in New York back in 2007 and drug charges in Arizona in 2008, ended up endorsing Donald Trump before the election, in large part because of the president’s work on criminal justice reform, but now Wayne’s attorney is singing the praises of Trump’s latest appointee to the Supreme Court.
In a press statement, attorney Howard Srebnick pointed out that Justice Amy Coney Barrett has previously opined that a felony conviction should not result in an automatic lifetime loss of Second Amendment rights.
[Lil Wayne] is charged with possessing a gold-plated handgun in his luggage on a private plane. There is no allegation that he ever fired it, brandished it, used it or threatened to use it. There is no allegation that he is a dangerous person. The charge is that because he was convicted of a felony in the past, he is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Although the Supreme Court has not yet decided the constitutional question, Justice Amy Coney Barrett recently wrote an appellate dissenting opinion in which she stated that “Absent evidence that he either belongs to a dangerous category or bears individual markers of risk, permanently disqualifying [a convicted felon] from possessing a gun violates the Second Amendment.
Now, it’s worth noting that in the appellate decision cited by Srebnick, Barrett’s opinion was a dissent from the majority opinion, which upheld the prohibition on gun ownership for a man named Rickey Kanter, who’d been convicted of mail fraud and served a year in federal prison. I happen to think that Barrett had the right idea, but for the moment anyway the federal court system disagrees.
The odds are that this case will get resolved one way or the other before trial, and I doubt that the rapper is going to face the maximum sentence of a decade behind bars, because celebrity justice is definitely a thing. Still, it’s not inconceivable that Lil Wayne’s case will one day reach the Supreme Court, and Justice Barrett’s views may carry the day if and when that happens. I just hope that if SCOTUS ever does have the chance to hear Lil Wayne’s case that ACB will be assigned the opinion, and that she cites some of his lyrics in her decision just to bring this story full circle.