As the Supreme Court begins to hear arguments in a controversial New York case, even now there are those who want to see the case kicked out of court.
In fairness to those, the case is arguably moot. The rule was changed and the state of New York barred future rules from being passed, so it suggests that the plaintiffs won even before the case was heard. In other words, New York City knew damn good and well they were treading on people’s rights and only started to care the moment it looked like gun control might take a hit nationally.
It’s similar to Washington, D.C. accepting a ruling that made them a “shall issue” jurisdiction with regard to concealed carry rather than go to the Supreme Court and upset “may issue” schemes all over the nation.
However, this is a little different. In this case, lower courts ruled for the government, which is something that probably needs to be addressed.
Not that it matters. It seems some in the media are reading a lot of what they want into what happened in court on Monday.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of a major gun rights case could end in a misfire, with the justices on Monday debating whether to dismiss a challenge backed by the powerful National Rifle Association to a New York City handgun ordinance.
The justices heard arguments in the first major gun dispute to come before them since 2010, with gun control advocates fearful that the court, with its 5-4 conservative majority, could issue a ruling further expanding firearms rights nationwide.
Much of the arguments focused on whether the court should even decide the merits of the legal challenge because the city in July got rid of the limits imposed on licensed gun owners on where they could take their firearms that were central to the legal challenge.
“What’s left of this case?” liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked. “Petitioners have gotten all the relief they sought.”
The city has “thrown in the towel,” added fellow liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Three local handgun owners and the New York state affiliate of the NRA — a national gun rights lobby group closely aligned with President Donald Trump and other Republicans — argued that the regulation violated the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The Trump administration sided with the NRA-backed challengers.
Only three of the five conservative justices asked questions. Two of them — Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch — were vocal in advocating for the court to issue a ruling. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who could be a pivotal vote in the case, said little but his questions indicated he potentially could vote in favor of dismissing the case.
The problem is, I’m not sure they’re not guilty of wishful thinking.
As Cam noted yesterday, Roberts wasn’t as enthusiastic as Alito and Gorsuch but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s siding with the liberal justices to dismiss the case completely.
The problem is that for anti-gunners and their allies in the media, their best hope is for the court to dismiss it because they know damn good and well that a ruling won’t benefit them in the least.
Now, there is another group that argues any ruling is unlikely to be as sweeping as Heller or McDonald, and on that one I tend to agree. The Court tends to keep its rulings rather narrowly defined, which means they might rule against the city but not in a way that has a broad impact on the rest of the nation.
Yet even there, though, it’s possible more will happen. Look at Justice Alito’s comments, for example. It certainly suggests the possibility that the case rules definitively that the right to keep and bear arms extends outside the home. Depending on the wording of the ruling along those lines, it could well have an impact on concealed carry, for example.
Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen that way. I’m only pointing out alternatives to the court kicking the case out. Others in the media would do well to consider those as well.