Supreme Court holds off on blocking NY carry laws.. for now

Supreme Court holds off on blocking NY carry laws.. for now
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The Supreme Court has declined to step in and stay enforcement of New York’s “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” for now, but the Court’s order shouldn’t give too much comfort to Gov. Kathy Hochul and the anti-gun lawmakers who crafted a defiant response to the SCOTUS ruling in NYSPRA v. Bruen that struck down the state’s “may-issue” laws.

In a statement accompanying the denial of a stay on enforcing the challenged provisions of the CCIA in a case known as Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, Justice Samuel Alito (joined by Justice Clarence Thomas) indicated that the Court is holding off on taking up the case for the time being, but only because they’re waiting for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to hopefully do the right thing.

The New York law at issue in this application presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments. The District Court found, in a thorough opinion, that the applicants were likely to succeed on a number of their claims, and it issued a preliminary injunction as to twelve provisions of the challenged law. With one exception, the Second Circuit issued a stay of the injunction in full, and in doing so did not provide any explanation for its ruling. App. to Emergency Application 2. In parallel cases presenting related issues, the Second Circuit has likewise issued unreasoned summary stay orders, but in those cases it has ordered expedited briefing.

I understand the Court’s denial today to reflect respect for the Second Circuit’s procedures in managing its own docket, rather than expressing any view on the merits of the case. Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal.

You don’t have to read between the lines to see what Alito and Thomas think about how the Antonyuk case has been handled so far, or what they think the Second Circuit should do moving forward. The pair praise U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby for his “thorough” analysis of the CCIA, which led to the preliminary injunction enjoining the law from being enforced, while they chastise the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for not even bothering to explain its rationale in overruling Suddaby’s injunction and call out the appellate court for not expediting the appeals process.

This is a legal shot across the bow of the Second Circuit, and its intent is to not-so-gently remind the appeals court that we’re dealing with questions of fundamental rights here. Remember, Justice Thomas also chided lower courts for treating the Second Amendment as a second-class right in the Bruen decision, so I’m not surprised to see him join Alito in putting the Second Circuit on notice as they did today.

I would have loved to have seen the Court step in now, but as Gun Owners of America’s Erich Pratt commented shortly after SCOTUS declined to intervene for the moment, today’s news isn’t a defeat for Second Amendment activists as much as it is a warning to lower courts around the country.

“While we would have hoped for immediate relief from the Court, this statement from Justice Alito is incredibly reassuring, in that the court is completely prepared to step in and re-assert the Bruen precedent should lower courts fail to properly, and in a timely manner, apply it in judicial cases where Second Amendment rights are being restricted. We look forward to continuing the fight against New York’s draconian law.”

Hopefully on an expedited basis. If not, expect GOA and the rest of the Antonyuk plaintiffs to head back to the Supreme Court with a second request for intervention… and I doubt the Court will be nearly as patient with the Second Circuit the next time around.