The Supreme Court announced this week that it will hear oral arguments in a case challenging a New York City law that prohibited residents from transporting firearms outside city limits.
City officials repealed the ordinance earlier this year to avoid a pro-gun Supreme Court decision and have since argued that the Court should not hear the case because the issue is now moot. On Monday, the Court disagreed.
“The Respondents’ Suggestion of Mootness is denied,” the Court said. “The question of mootness will be subject to further consideration at oral argument, and the parties should be prepared to discuss it.”
The case is backed by the National Rifle Association and the New York Rifle and Pistol Association. The NRA applauded the Court’s decision in a press release.
“The Supreme Court saw through New York City’s blatant attempt to evade judicial review in this important case,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Jason Ouimet. “This case presents a national opportunity to confirm a simple truth that New York City politicians refuse to accept: Our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is fundamental, and it doesn’t vanish when we exit our homes.”
The Court has faced significant political pressure in recent months to drop the case. Five Democratic Senators, backed by 139 House Democrats, issued a brief in August threatening to “restructure” the Court if it chose to move forward. The senators accused the Court of “partnering” with “the NRA and its allies”:
“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,” they said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that the case is not moot because, as Second Amendment Foundation Founder Alan Gottlieb told GunsAmerica in August, New York City can simply reinstate the law the moment the Court agrees to drop the case. This issue is not moot, in other words, until the plaintiffs receive a ruling from the highest court in the land.
“As petitioners have explained, they manifestly have not obtained everything from the unilateral and begrudging changes in city and state law that they could have gotten were this case litigated to a favorable result, with declaratory relief that the transport ban is (and always was) unconstitutional and binding, forward-looking injunctive relief,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said.
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A wide variety of pro-gun organizations have filed briefs in support of the plaintiffs, including the National African American Gun Association, the Pink Pistols, the Liberal Gun Club, the Cato Institute, and the Academics for the Second Amendment.
One hundreds and twenty members of the U.S. House also filed a brief in support, arguing that the right to keep and bear arms in “is an individual, natural, and fundamental right” that “predates the Second Amendment, and its central concept is the right of self-defense.”
The Court will hear the first oral arguments on Monday, December 2, 2019.