On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge over gun rights, leaving in place limits on concealed weapons in San Diego. Issuing a withering dissent, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said Second Amendment disputes aren’t getting enough attention in the Supreme Court.
“The Court’s decision … reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right,” they wrote.
In 2008, the court ruled that the Constitution guarantees gun rights. Yet the Supreme Court has refused repeated requests to clarify those rights, thus granting cities and states the ability to set permit restrictions and assault weapon bans.
The rejected case revolved around a San Diego man who questioned state and county policies that require a specific reason or need to carry a concealed weapon. He argued the policy was restrictive, but a federal appeals court had ruled in favor of the the state. With the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal, the restrictions will stay in place.
According to Thomas and Gorsuch, the appeals court’s decision is “indefensible.”
“The Court has not heard argument in a Second Amendment case in over seven years,” they wrote. “… This discrepancy is inexcusable, especially given how much less developed our jurisprudence is with respect to the Second Amendment as compared to the First and Fourth Amendments.”
The high court also rejected a second case, centered around a federal law that prevents people convicted of crimes from owning guns. The Trump administration asked the court to review a ruling by the federal appeals court in Philadelphia, which ruled in favor of two men convicted of non-violent crime, restoring their gun rights. The Trump administration wanted the court to uphold the blanket prohibition on gun ownership in the federal law, and reject individual challenges. Two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, said they would have heard the administration’s appeal.
Thomas and Gorsuch warn that lives depend on these decisions, and the court does not want to appear dismissive toward gun rights.
“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous,” they write. “But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it. I respectfully dissent.”
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