Supreme Court Takes Major NRA Second Amendment Case from New York
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted review in the first Second Amendment case in almost a decade, a case supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and perhaps signaling what to expect from the new membership of the Supreme Court.
New York law forbids residents from owning any handguns without a permit, and that permit allows the holder to possess guns only in their home or en route to or from one of seven shooting ranges in the city. A gun owner cannot transport a firearm outside the home for any other purpose, even if it is unloaded and locked in a case in the trunk of a car.
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and several of its members sued in federal court, arguing that this statute is unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment secures an individual right, but that 2008 case involved only a law-abiding citizen seeking to have a handgun in his privately owned home for self-defense.
The Court further held in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a fundamental right, and thus extends to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment, but again that 2010 involved a law-abiding citizen seeking to keep a handgun in the home.
That is essentially all the Supreme Court has done with the Second Amendment thus far. The Court has repeatedly turned down petitions for review (called a petition for a writ of certiorari) in several major cases over the subsequent nine years. Some experts speculated that Justice Anthony Kennedy – who was the fifth and thus decisive vote in Heller and McDonald – was reluctant to take any additional steps on gun rights. Without his vote, neither side of the gun debate could move the needle in either direction.
Some legal strategists wondered if Justice Brett Kavanaugh – who has a judicial recording supporting gun rights – now sitting in Kennedy’s seat would break the paralysis over Second Amendment jurisprudence. It appears the answer might be “yes.”
Lead counsel in the case is former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who also was one of the lawyers who argued in both Heller and McDonald. Clement is one of the most accomplished Supreme Court advocates in American history, having argued over 90 cases before the justices.
Clement argues that New York’s statute violates the Second Amendment, the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to interstate travel.
The NRA is centrally involved in the case. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is the NRA’s official state affiliate in the Empire State.
This instantly becomes one of the most significant cases of the year at the Supreme Court. Oral arguments should be held in late April, with a decision by the end of June.
The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Associaiton v. New York, No. 18-280 in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.