Justices Hear Arguments In SCOTUS Showdown Over NYC Gun Case
As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday morning in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v New York City case, gun control activists rallied outside the court in support of gun restrictions, though many of them were oddly silent on the specifics of this case.
Townhall.com’s Julio Rosas joined me from the Court for today’s program, and I also speak with Philip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League about the surge in Second Amendment Sanctuary counties across the state. I’ll have a separate post on the latest in Virginia but right now let’s talk about the Supreme Court and what it’s likely to do with the case now that justices have heard from both sides.
The biggest question at the moment is whether or not the Court will dismiss the case due to mootness. Transcripts of today’s oral arguments are now now available if you want to read for yourself, but most of the press coverage of the arguments indicates that Chief Justice John Roberts might be the deciding vote on whether the case goes forward and the Court rules on the New York City gun law in question, or if the city’s attempt to moot the case by changing the law a couple of months ago (after defending the law for several years) will end the litigation. From Reuters:
Conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were most vocal in advocating for the court to issue a ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts, who could be a pivotal vote in the case, said little but asked whether the city residents who challenged the law would face consequences for violations of the prior regulation.
The legal challenge takes aim at a regulation that had prevented licensed owners from taking their handguns to other homes or shooting ranges outside the confines of the most-populous U.S. city. The regulation was amended in July to allow for such transport.
“What’s left of this case?” asked liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “Petitioners got all the relief they sought.”
Not really. As former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who’s representing the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, told the court, some of the provisions of the revised law could still cause city residents to break the law if they so much as stop to get a cup of coffee on the way to the range. Clement also argued that, given the fact that the city didn’t change the law in question until after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, there’s no reason to believe the city was acting in good faith and wouldn’t simply change the law again if the lawsuit is dismissed.
Vox is claiming that Chief Justice John Roberts appeared sympathetic to the city’s position, but I would caution folks from trying to read too much into the questions asked by justices during the oral arguments. Moreover, even Vox acknowledges that if the Supreme Court decides that the New York City gun case is moot, there are other Second Amendment cases queued up and ready for the Court’s attention.
Meanwhile, while New York State Rifle is likely to be declared moot, there is another Second Amendment case — Rogers v. Grewal — that the Supreme Court could take up as soon as Friday. The questions presented in Rogers include “whether the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense.”
If New York State Rifle is declared moot, the Court could simply take up the Rogers case — and there’s still plenty of time for the Court to decide that case before its current term ends this June.
New York State Rifle, in other words, appears likely to end in the tiniest possible victory for gun control. The case will likely be dismissed as moot, but a Second Amendment reckoning is all but inevitable in the Supreme Court. And it’s likely to come very soon.
That’s the good news for gun owners. The Supreme Court has been holding the Rogers case for months now, and the speculation is that the Court did so pending the outcome of NYSRPA v. NYC. If the Court does decide that the case is still a live issue, the majority opinion could have an impact on the New Jersey carry case, and they could send Rogers back to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals with guidance directed by the NYSRPA v NYC opinion.
If, on the other hand, the Court does moot the New York case, it has Rogers to pick up instead, and the Court would be dealing with a much more explicit challenge to the infringement on the right to bear arms than the New York City case presents.
If the Supreme Court decides that the New York Case is moot, I’d expect a decision to come fairly quickly. If the Court does move forward with the case, expect a ruling in several months.
When the oral argument transcripts are made available, you’ll be able to access them here. In the meantime, check out today’s show with Julio Rosas and VCDL’s Philip Van Cleave, and we’ll be keeping an eye on any future developments at the Supreme Court.
Also on today’s show, we have an armed citizen story from Missouri, a criminal justice fail from Baltimore, and an off-duty officer who performed a very good deed in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the show at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Townhall.com’s podcast page. We’ll have much more reaction to today’s oral arguments on tomorrow’s show, so be sure to tune in.
Cam Edwards has covered the 2nd Amendment for more than 15 years as a broadcast and online journalist, as well as the co-author of "Heavy Lifting: Grow Up, Get a Job, Start a Family, and Other Manly Advice" with Jim Geraghty. He lives outside of Farmville, Virginia with his family.
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December 2, 2019 at 02:10PM