Few Supreme Court terms will have been as consequential as this latest one — and, while the overturning of Roe v. Wade might be what’s most remembered, the court’s decision in a case involving a New York state gun law may end up being the one with the biggest impact.
The case involved a New York law that required individuals to show “proper cause” to carry a gun outside the home, according to The Hill.
That cause wasn’t defined, so New York’s courts interpreted it as “a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.”
Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said this contravened the Second Amendment.
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” he wrote.
The Hill noted there were several major takeaways from the case.
1) The case was decided along ideological lines.
The vote was 6-3, with the six Republican-appointed judges voting to strike down the law and three Democrat-appointed judges voting to uphold it.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent in the case.
2) The decision will affect other states’ strict “proper cause” laws.
While the decision only directly affected New York’s law, several states have similar statutes.
In his decision, Thomas specifically mentioned laws that had been enacted in
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, D.C..
“In 43 States, the government issues licenses to carry based on objective criteria,” Thomas wrote. “But in six states, including New York, the government further conditions issuance of a license to carry on a citizen’s showing of some additional special need.”
3) It’s the biggest decision from the Supreme Court on gun rights in nearly a decade and a half.
Not since District of Columbia v. Heller has the court handed down a ruling that so thoroughly decimated gun-grabbers.
In that 2008 decision, the court ruled that Washington, D.C.’s law banning handguns and requiring rifles and shotguns that were legally owned to be “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” was unconstitutional.
4) The ruling could scuttle the bipartisan gun deal agreed to by the Senate.
The decision in the New York case argues the government must show gun laws are “consistent” with “historical tradition” in the United States.
However, so-called “red flag laws” — a major component of the bill, which allows firearms to be taken from an individual without due process under the nebulous pretense that they represent a risk to themselves or others — could be seen as deviating from that standard.
“A law like a red flag law — part of the Senate compromise — is a new modern innovation,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law. “There is no historical tradition of taking guns away from people who are in crisis.”