A group of Democrats in the U.S. Senate has threatened the Supreme Court with “restructuring” if it does not drop what could be a landmark gun case out of New York.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, Mazie Hirono, Richard Durbin, and Kirsten Gillibrand argue in a recent brief that SCOTUS should drop the case because New York City has repealed the gun control law in question. If the Supreme Court refuses, the senators warn, they will consider meeting “public demands” to add more justices to the bench.
“The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” the brief says. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.”
The Supreme Court announced in January that it would accept its first gun-related case in over a decade to determine the constitutionality of a New York law that prohibited the transportation of handguns anywhere except to and from shooting ranges. Depending on how broadly the court rules, the case could affect all laws controlling the right to bear arms outside the home and, if favorable to the plaintiffs, score a major victory for gun rights across the country.
Rather than face an unfavorable ruling from the right-leaning court, New York City officials dropped the law in an effort to get SCOTUS to drop the case.
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Second Amendment Foundation Founder Alan Gottlieb told GunsAmerica that the Court should still hear the case because nothing prevents New York from reenacting the original law.
“The best argument for the Supreme Court to hear the New Your City case is that nothing prevents them from re-enacting the gun prohibition scheme. They only changed it at the last minute to prevent a ruling against them,” Gottlieb said via email.
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, the organization that brought the case against the city, accused city officials of a “nakedly transparent effort to evade this court’s review” by moving to ease the restrictions.
The court has made no indication that it plans to drop the case. Gottlieb put the chances at 50/50, but also noted that the Second Amendment Foundation has two additional cases before the high court if they decide to pass on the New York case.
If the court continues to allow the case to move forward, Democratic senators argue, it will confirm its allegiance to political action groups like the National Rifle Association.
“Indeed, petitioners and their allies have made perfectly clear that they seek a partner in a ‘project’ to expand the Second Amendment and thwart gun safety regulations,” the brief states. “Particularly in an environment where a growing majority of Americans believes this Court is ‘motivated mainly by politics,’ rather than by adherence to the law, the Court should resist petitioners’ invitation.”
“Out in the real world,” it continues, “Americans are murdered each day with firearms in classrooms or movie theaters or churches or city streets… In the cloistered confines of this Court, and notwithstanding the public imperatives of these massacres, the NRA and its allies brashly presume, in word and deed, that they have a friendly audience for their ‘project.’”