Does the Constitution protect the right to carry a firearm outside the home? The U.S. Supreme Court is set to answer that question by next year. On Monday, April 26, the Court announced it would hear the case of New York residents challenging their state law, which gives government officials complete discretion over who gets permission to carry. New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, backed by the National Rifle Association will be argued in the fall.
New York is one of the worst states in the union when it comes to gun laws. The state requires would-be holders of a license to carry concealed to jump through innumerable hoops and expenses, and the last one is often impossible. In New York and a few other hold-out states, the final call on whether an applicant is issued a license or permit depends on whether a state or county employee thinks it’s a good idea. That is what’s at issue here for those in these reddest of states.
‘Shall Issue’ Comes to Court?
Since the 1980s, more and more states have gone from may issue permitting to shall issue. If you present yourself at the DMV having passed all the tests and with proper ID, you are entitled to the driver’s license. Laws and regulations require the issuance of the driver’s license to all qualified applicants. Imagine the same setup, where you have to convince someone at the DMV you need to drive but the DMV clerk could simply rule against you without the right to appeal. Such is the case with permission to carry guns in the red states on the map shown. The state may issue permits to qualified people, but it doesn’t have to.
So, celebrities and politicians often get licenses, but Jane Q. Public can pound sand. That may change thanks to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s refusal to exit the Court during the Obama administration.
The Supreme Court rejected a challenge against a restrictive New York City gun law just last year because the city quickly changed the law before the case could be heard. Justices hadn’t made a big ruling on a Second Amendment case since McDonald v. Chicago in 2010. It ruled 5-4 that states, as well as the federal government, are subject to the Second Amendment. Now, gun-rights advocates think they have a winning hand at the high court and are pressing forward.
Justice Clarence Thomas was moved to dissent from the bench when the Court refused the New York City case last year. He said:
“In several jurisdictions throughout the country, law-abiding citizens have been barred from exercising the fundamental right to bear arms because they cannot show that they have a ‘justifiable need’ or ‘good reason’ for doing so.” He continued, “One would think that such an onerous burden on a fundamental right would warrant this court’s review.”
Thomas will get his wish now and with a decidedly more conservative set of justices.
Ruth’s Replacement to the Rescue
In a twist of irony that must make gun-rights proponents smile, Justice Ginsburg famously rejected requests to resign during the Obama administration. She complained that, had she done so, she would not be replaced with someone as liberal. The left wasn’t worried about a choice between her and whoever Obama could get through, it was between her and who a Republican might appoint.
Justice Ginsburg was in the dissent in McDonald and would certainly vote against the would-be gun carriers in this case. She was quite hostile, judicially, to the notion that gun rights were individual rights, akin to others found in the Bill of Rights. She was, however, replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, who is the hope of conservatives. Justice Barrett’s jurisprudence is still up in the air as a new member of the Court, but it’s a sure bet she will be better for gun rights than Justice Ginsburg.
How much better remains to be seen, but we will keep you up to date here at LibertyNation.com as the case progresses.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.