SCOTUS on gerrymandering

Gun owners spend a lot of time thinking about the next gun case SCOTUS will take up but there is another issue pending in the courts that could have a big impact especially in New York.  See The Hill’s article, Will the Supreme Court draw the line on gerrymandering?

Roughly 95% of our state legislature is re-elected every cycle in large part due to decades of gerrymandering which have made all but a handful of races competitive.  Since both chambers have to agree on district lines the majorities in each draw the districts to favor the party in power, Democrats in the Assembly and Republicans in the Senate.

If SCOTUS were to issue a decision that invalidates gerrymandering and New York was forced to redraw districts fairly it would impact gun rights in two ways:

First, there would be more competitive elections than there are now increasing opportunities for political action.  That’s good.

Second, it would in all likelihood wipe out the Senate Republicans.  That’s bad, but since it is only a matter of time before that happens anyway, it isn’t such a big deal.

Knowing this, I think this could be a plus for us.

Definition of “proper cause”

New York’s discretionary pistol licensing system requires applicants show “proper cause” for a license to be issued.

What exactly is that?

The NYPD defines it as giving officers booze, broads and bags of cash.

Another SCOTUS retirement coming?

Some more rumormongering about another SCOTUS justice retiring:

“During a visit to Muscatine Tuesday morning, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he expects a Supreme Court Justice resignation within the year. “I would expect a resignation this summer,” he said …”

Ted Cruz said the same thing back in February:

“Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told “Special Report with Bret Baier” Thursday that “I think the odds are very good” that a second seat on the Supreme Court will fall vacant this year. “If not this summer, next summer,” Cruz told Bret Baier. “You know, judges don’t like it when people kind of nudge them out, so they’ll go when they decide to go.” …”

Please, please, please let it be Ginsberg who goes.  She’s 84 and looks like half-past death now.

Here is an old list of possible Trump appointments the President could pick from if there is an vacancy on the court.  Thomas Hardiman from the 3rd District has a great record on gun rights:

“… Hardiman established an expansive view of the right to own and carry firearms under the Second Amendment in his opinion disagreeing with a New Jersey law that required people applying for concealed weapons permits to show a “justifiable need” to be armed in public. Although Hardiman was alone among three judges in his opposition to the law, he wrote that it was unconstitutional because the need for self defense exists both inside and outside the home. Hardiman also authored an opinion in support of restoring the rights to possess weapons of two men convicted of non-violent misdemeanors. He was in the majority, finding that the Second Amendment barred gun ownership only for people convicted of violent crimes. But Hardiman went further than his colleagues in the majority, writing a concurring opinion that even violent felons could regain Second Amendment rights if their crimes were far in the past and the ex-offender had lived a law-abiding life since his arrest …”

The carry case was Drake v. Jerejian which SCOTUS declined to hear. The other one was Binderup v. Attorney General.

Gorsuch to decide whether to take gun cases

We’re going to find out soon if Justice Neil Gorsuch is pro-gun or not as SCOTUS has two petitions pending on gun cases:

“… The most important is a petition from gun rights activists asking the court to find for the first time that the Second Amendment right to keep a gun for self-defense extends to carrying firearms outside the home. In cases from California, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that it did not. “Any prohibition or restriction a state may choose to impose on concealed carry — including a requirement of ‘good cause,’ however defined — is necessarily allowed by the [Second] Amendment,” it said. A strongly worded dissent said “any fair reading” of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision finding a constitutional right to gun ownership for self-defense “compels the conclusion that the right to keep and bear arms extends beyond one’s front door.” A second case involves whether those convicted of certain crimes can be barred indefinitely from possessing firearms …”

The California case is Peruta v. California which is backed by the NRA & CRPA.  This is the one that could ultimately make New York shall-issue.

I believe the second case is United States v. Games-Perez.

Justice Gorsuch

The Senate just confirmed Neil Gorsuch to SCOTUS by a vote of 54-45.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally had enough of Charles Schumer’s crap and eliminated the filibuster for judicial candidates.  Considering the penchant for Republicans to preemptively surrender to Democrats this is a dramatic shift and hopefully a sign of good things to come.

First, there have been repeated rumors of another SCOTUS justice retiring this year.  With longer any need to pander to Democrats we may get the opportunity to get another originalist justice on the court.

Second, while the legislative filibuster remains intact, Democrats may think twice about blocking popular bills just for the sake of being obstructionists. The reciprocity bill S.446 currently has 36 sponsors and probably more than 50, but less than 60, Yes votes.  If allowed to the floor it will be a huge will for gun rights.

Blumenthal admits Gorsuch opposition about guns

Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal admitted his opposition to Neil Gorsuch is about guns (among other things):

“… Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Brian Schatz of Hawaii became the latest Democratic senators to announce their opposition to Gorsuch … “We must assume that Judge Gorsuch has passed the Trump litmus test — a pro-life, pro-gun, conservative judge,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “In question after question, Judge Gorsuch had an opportunity to distance himself from right-wing groups. His refusal to answer only deepens the doubt that he is not a neutral follower of the law — an umpire who just calls balls and strikes — but instead an acolyte of hard-right special interests.” …”

Democrats for Gorsuch

NRA is running ads in four states in an attempt to pressure Democrat Senators to vote for Neil Gorsuch. That’s good.

In addition, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has indicated he will vote for cloture on the nomination.

This concerns me:

“… Serious question: What leverage does the GOP have, really, over Joe Manchin? I know, I know — West Virginia’s one of the reddest states in the union and voted overwhelmingly for Trump, so in theory Trump could swoop in there next year and demand that Manchin be ousted. Realistically, though, Manchin’s going to end up voting with Trump and the GOP on a bunch of legislation over the next 18 months, which will put him back in the White House’s good graces no matter what he does on Gorsuch … On top of all that, Manchin has a strong electoral history in WV … The guy has never seriously been threatened back home …”

Here is the reason for my concern:

“… According to the NYT Mag, Manchin appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on December 14, 2016, the 4th anniversary of the heinous attack in which 20-year-old Adam Lanza stole guns, killed his mother, then went to Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 26 more innocents. While on air, Manchin again voiced support for his pet gun control item — an expansion of background checks in response to the Sandy Hook attack. Within an hour after his segment ended, Manchin received a phone call from Donald Trump. And while he did not divulge details of the call, he told NYT Mag reporter Robert Draper that he believes he has “a complete opportunity” to secure gun control under Trump …”

This is probably just hot air from Manchin, but I would not put it past the Republicans to offer him something in exchange for his Gorsuch vote.

Trump stumbles

The Donald has made the first big mistake of his presidency by demanding the House vote on his health care bill.  According to Business Insider:

“… “Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill,” Bannon reportedly said to members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus …”

This was a really dumb move on his part.  It was a rookie mistake he can recover from.

The problem for 2A is that it comes at a bad time.  Democrats want to block Neil Gorsuch’s nomination and this gaff will embolden them.  To get past the threat of a filibuster, Trump, Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans need to step down hard on Chuck Schumer.  There can be no comprise here.  Any weakness on the part of Trump or McConnell and Schumer wins.

Gorsuch nomination

Senate confirmation hearings on SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch began yesterday.

The antis are not happy:

Dianne Feinstein attacked the NRA during her remarks:

“… It is the Supreme Court that will have final word … [on] whether the NRA and other extreme organizations will be able to block common sense gun regulations, including those that keep military-style assault weapons off our streets …”

It’s a safe bet both Heller and McDonald will come up during questioning. The Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the nomination April 3 and the full Senate sometime after that.

Ultimately I expect Gorsuch will be confirmed. There isn’t much of a well organized opposition to him, mostly people already angry that Trump won. Chuck Schumer is not doing a very good job at being Minority Leader. I was expecting him to be a much bigger pain than he has been so far.

Please be true

Some rumormongering from Ted Cruz:

Sen. Ted Cruz predicted Thursday that there will be another vacancy on the Supreme Court later this year but provided no explanation for why he believes that is likely to happen. Cruz (R-Tex.) also appeared to suggest that a departure of one of justices from the liberal wing of the court would trigger the opening …”

Considering half the Court looks like death warmed-over this would not be a surprise.

If true, it would be a huge opportunity for gun rights.

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