I was hopeful that the Supreme Court would take up at least one gun-rights case that had seemingly ripened enough for the justices to consider in 2020. But in the middle of June, SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decided not to clarify any Second Amendment litigation when it rejected nearly a dozen Second Amendment-related cases that it had been considering in conference. This follows on the heels of another disappointment when the court decided to moot a challenge to a New York City gun law that had the potential to take gun bans off the table entirely. Here’s what the court decided not to hear:
- Worman v. Healey challenged the state’s ban on “assault weapons.”
- Gould v. Lipson challenged Massachusetts’ carry laws.
- Rogers v. Grewal, Cheeseman v. Polillo, and Ciolek v. New Jersey dealt with challenges to New Jersey’s carry laws and “justifiable need” requirement for a carry permit. Malpasso v. Pallozzi took on similar requirements in Maryland.
- Pena v. Horan: This challenge to California’s microstamping law took effect in 2012 and has reduced the availability of new models of handguns and caused existing models of handguns to be banned.
- Culp v. Raoul challenged an Illinois law barring residents from 45 other states from applying for a non-resident concealed carry license, while Wilson v. Cook County took on that Illinois county’s ban on modern sporting rifles.
- Mance v. Barr challenged the ban on interstate sales of handguns.
It’s hard to know which denials are the most repugnant. The NJ and Maryland laws prohibit citizens from carrying arms in public unless they can establish “good cause” or a “justifiable need” for doing so. The patronizing aspect of officials deciding which citizens deserve protection for their lives offends me. I’m most familiar with Mance, since it originated in Texas. It had the potential to completely overthrow the existing across-state-lines restrictions of handgun sales, and it had Alan Gura, the lawyer who won Heller, as counsel for Texas FFL Fredric Mance, the named litigant.
With so many choices, why did SCOTUS take a pass on everything? The likely answer is unsettling: Roberts. Chief Justice John Roberts has moved left, so he’s now the likely fifth vote against any pro-2nd Amendment ruling. If Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh all want to review a 2A case, but Roberts can’t be counted on as the fifth vote in a 5-4 split, we are indeed better off waiting until a more dependable justice can replace RBG or Breyer. And that depends on what happens in November.