Posts Tagged With: background checks

What happened to the Second Amendment at the U.S. Supreme Court this year?….


 

The U.S. Supreme Court building.
This term, the Supreme Court went out of its way to avoid the right to bear arms.

June is always an exciting month for law geeks and political junkies. It’s the month when the U.S. Supreme Court typically issues opinions on some of the most controversial disputes of the day. This June will be no different, with high-profile decisions expected on abortion protests, Obamacare’s contraception mandate, and the president’s recess appointment power. Yet one of the lingering mysteries of this past Supreme Court term lies in a matter the justices seemingly refuse to rule on: What happened to the Second Amendment?

The justices are rarely hesitant to wade into any hot-button legal issue, including guns. Six years ago, the court made headlines when it ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to own a gun. The court expanded on that decision two years later, but this term, despite numerous invitations and opportunities, the justices went out of their way to avoid the right to bear arms.

Signs of this were clear on Monday, when the court in a 5–4 ruling upheld a major gun control law, the federal ban on “straw” purchasing without so much as mentioning the Second Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Elena Kagan reasoned that the background checks gun dealers are required to perform before selling someone a firearm would be “virtually repeal[ed]” if anyone could go in and buy a gun for someone else, while saying it was for him. In the dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the majority of misreading federal law, which he said was not intended to prohibit straw purchasing at all.

The justices’ failure to consider the Second Amendment was in part due to how the case was framed. The law wasn’t challenged as an infringement of the constitutional right to bear arms. The issue was one of statutory interpretation. Yet judges often look to background principles in deciding whether to read a statute broadly (as Kagan did) or narrowly (as Scalia did). One might have expected the values and concerns enshrined in the Second Amendment to at least make an appearance, if not a star turn. When the justices ignore the Second Amendment when construing a major gun control law, one suspects it isn’t merely an oversight.

Even as Second Amendment battles heat up in legislatures across the country—exemplified by Georgia’s recently adopted “guns everywhere” law permitting firearms in churches, bars, and airports—the Supreme Court refused to enter the fray. The justices declined to hear appeals in several Second Amendment cases this year. They turned away a case out of New Jersey on the constitutionality of discretionary permitting for concealed carry. They steered clear of a case challenging Texas’ ban on concealed carry by people under 21. And they denied cert in another case contesting the federal law banning gun dealers from selling handguns to people under 21.

Were the justices having second thoughts about the Second Amendment? One thing is certain: There were very strong reasons for the court to take a Second Amendment case this term. The court’s previous decisions left open two major questions: Does the Second Amendment protect the right of people to carry guns in public? And what test should courts use generally to determine the constitutionality of gun restrictions?

These questions have bedeviled the lower courts over the past few years, with judges all across the country offering contradictory answers. One federal appeals court held that police can exercise broad discretion over who can carry a gun in public, while another held the opposite. Some courts have adopted a test for Second Amendment cases that gives lawmakers considerable leeway to enact gun laws, while others have insisted on a more strict scrutiny. In some ways, the current Supreme Court jurisprudence on guns raised as many questions as it answered.

Such disagreement in the lower courts is usually the best predictor of whether the Supreme Court takes a case. The justices understand the nation’s need for uniformity, especially when it comes to individual rights. This term, however, the justices weren’t inclined to sort out any such inconsistencies involving the Second Amendment. Indeed, when expressly invited to wade in, they balked.

Über Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement, at the top of the shortlist of high-court nominees should the GOP recapture the White House in 2016, tried to goad the justices into taking a Second Amendment case. In a brief he filed on behalf of the National Rifle Association in the gun dealer case, Clement argued that the lower courts have engaged in a “pervasive pattern of stubborn resistance to this Court’s holdings” in the earlier gun cases. This language evoked the notorious “massive resistance” of Southern states to the court’s school desegregation decisions. Like the NAACP before him, he and the NRA were looking for the court to issue a clear, strong command to lower courts to read the Second Amendment broadly.

No thanks, said the court, declining to take the case. Indeed, the NRA may have been this term’s biggest loser. Not only did the court refuse to hear Clement’s case and another brought by the nation’s leading gun rights group, but it also rejected the NRA’s position outright in the straw-purchaser case just decided. In March, the court held in another case that a law banning guns to people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of “domestic violence” applied to those convicted of domestic “assault,” even if it was unclear that the assault involved violent force. Although the NRA didn’t take an official position in that case, many in its leadership were surely unhappy to see another Supreme Court ruling broadly reading a gun control law to reduce access to guns.

NRA disappointment might well turn into despair after Monday’s ruling, as Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote on the Second Amendment and so many other issues, sided with gun control advocates and the court’s liberal wing. It’s long been suspected that Kennedy signed on to the earlier Second Amendment rulings by the court only after language was inserted allowing for reasonable restrictions on guns. But the question has lingered: How far would Kennedy allow gun control to go?

That question might well have been on the minds of the other justices when they voted not to hear a Second Amendment case this year. With four justices likely in favor of broad Second Amendment rights and another four likely opposed, the scope of the right to bear arms turns on Kennedy. His views may have been sufficiently unclear that neither side wanted to take a risk of a landmark decision coming out the wrong way.

If, however, this term is any indication, Kennedy seems increasingly less likely to be a solid vote for expansive Second Amendment rights. Indeed, twice this term he voted for expansive readings of gun control laws instead. For the NRA, so used to winning in statehouses around the country, this can’t be good news. After this term, the NRA may be hoping that the Second Amendment stays out of the Supreme Court for a good, long while.

Categories: 2nd Amendment, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Police State tactics, coming soon around you….OUT-OF-STATE GUNOWNER PROFILED FOR TRAFFIC STOP


State police in Maryland have launched an internal investigation into an incident where a man reported being stopped by an officer and asked, “Where is your gun?”

But social media isn’t waiting for the results, with countless calls for a lawsuit over the incident that happened over the holiday period as John Filippidis, described in his local newspaper as a “silver-haired family man, business owner, employer and taxpayer,” drove through Maryland returning from family events in New Jersey to his Florida home.

And an expert on the Fourth Amendment’s assurance of protection for Americans’ privacy says in a few years, police won’t even need to ask such questions, since they’ll have drones flying overhead with sensors that will tell them if there is a weapon in a vehicle.

The driver’s version of the story was chronicled by, among others, columnist Tom Jackson in the Tampa Tribune.

Jackson said Filippidis ordinarily carries a gun because of the cash he carries for his work.

But when he went on a family trip, he left it locked in a safe in his home.

Reported Jackson, “So there the Filippidises were on New Year’s Eve, southbound on Interstate 95 – John; wife Kally (his Gulf High sweetheart): the 17-year-old twins Nasia and Yianni; and 13-year-old Gina in their 2012 Ford Expedition – just barely out of the Fort McHenry Tunnel into Maryland, blissfully unarmed and minding their own business when they noticed they were being bird-dogged by an unmarked patrol car. It flanked them a while, then pulled ahead of them, then fell in behind them.” Such maneuvers took maybe 10 or 15 minutes, reports said.

Eventually the lights went on, and Filippidis pulled over.

The officer, from the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, asked about license and registration details, and returned to his vehicle.

Then he came back, ordering Filippidis out of the vehicle, and to hook his thumbs behind his back and spread his feet.

“You own a gun,” said the officer. “Where is it?”

At home, said Filippidis.

The officer then asked Kally Filippides, who said she didn’t know. Then she added, maybe in the glove box, or in the console – she didn’t know.

The result? The Expedition was emptied of all people, possessions and packages. An hour passed, maybe more. Much later, no weapon found, they resumed their trip.

Many of nearly 2,000 comments about the article on the Tampa site encouraged a lawsuit. Some in terms that weren’t so polite.

“I’d sue the cr-p out of them!” wrote one person.

“Contact an attorney,” said another.

“It was just a hot head cop thinking he was gonna catch someone doing something wrong,” another said.

“For what reason did the officer pull him over? Why was he profiled in such a manner. I’d sue …”

Police said there was limited information they could release, since an internal investigation was under way. Formally, they said, “A preliminary review indicates that all proper protocols were followed throughout the Dec. 30, 2013, 55-minute traffic stop of I-95, which was initiated for a speeding violation.”

However, 1st Sgt. Jonathan Green told WND that, generally, officers in his department are trained to look beyond the surface of any traffic stop and question whether anything is wrong.

What do you get when the government steps out of line? Read “Constitutional Chaos,” by Judge Andrew Napolitano.

He said a “warning” was issued during the traffic stop, but no ticket that would require a formal response.

Further details were being withheld pending the outcome of the investigation, which was launched after a complaint.

But Fourth Amendment expert John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute said those online commenters probably have it right – there should be a court case.

As the author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” Whitehouse doesn’t hide his opinion that Americans already are living under a police state – and that needs to change.

An attorney, he’s pursued civil liberties issues for decades, earning the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. Probably one of his highest profile roles came as co-counsel in Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton.

He told WND about the current issue that the federal government, through the Department of Homeland Security, had been handing out license plate readers to local police agencies across the country – and those identify drivers, immediately providing to officers details such as driving records and whether a concealed weapons permit exists.

But Whitehead said police still are supposed to have probable cause to do surveillance on an individual, and that’s what monitoring a vehicle in traffic for an extended period amounts to.

That means some evidence of illegal activity, not just a “suspicion,” he said.

“This is only going to get worse,” he also told WND.

Soon, he said, there will be a police drone flying over traffic, scanning vehicles, and telling authorities if there is an weapon in any of the vehicles.

“This new technology completely bypasses all constitutional protections,” he said, allowing government to collect nearly unlimited information on individuals, such as what the National Security Agency has been doing with telephone call monitoring.

“We live in a police state,” he said.

Jackson wrote in his commentary that Filippidis decided to leave his palm-sized Kel-Tec handgun at home specifically because he didn’t want to deal with local rules and regulations about carrying.

“I know the laws and I know the rules,” Filippidis told Jackson. “But I just think it’s a better idea to leave it home.”

But it wasn’t enough, he said, recalling his encounter.

“All that time, he’s humiliating me in front of my family, making me feel like a criminal,” he told Jackson. “I’ve never been to prison, never declared bankruptcy, I pay my taxes, support my 20 employees’ families; I’ve never been in any kind of trouble.

“And he wants to put me in jail. He wants to put me in jail. For no reason. He wants to take my wife and children away and put me in jail. In America, how does such a thing happen? … And after all that, he didn’t even write me a ticket.”

Jackson reported there was an apology from the police agency, but Green said that couldn’t be confirmed, as it would be part of the internal review.

The National Rifle Association, after WND asked for its perspective on the dispute, released a statement late Friday that warned gun owners that even trying to comply with all the laws appears not to be sufficient to avoid trouble in some cases.

The NRA said the account is a “disturbing story of a man who found himself on the receiving end of some aggressive and heavy-handed police tactics, apparently for nothing more than being under suspicion of owning a firearm.”

The organization said the story “appears to be a cautionary tale as to why gun owners should be highly suspect of ‘universal background checks’ and other initiatives that promise to create records of their ownership or involvement with firearms, however innocent or legal. As ideological and political attacks on Second Amendment rights continue, even great caution and compliance with the law will not necessarily spare gun owners grief for exercising their rights.”

 

Categories: 2nd Amendment, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

mayanexplore.com

Riviera Maya Travel Guide

Cajun Food, Louisiana History, and a Little Lagniappe

Preservation of traditional River Road cuisine, Louisiana history & architecture, and the communities between Baton Rouge & NOLA

Jali Wanders

Wondering and Wandering

Southpaw Tracks

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” ~Samuel Adams

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

what's the formula?

Nurturing awesomeness: from the parents of celebrities, heroes, trailblazers and leaders

Tarheel Red

A Voice of Conservatism Living in Carolina Blue

cancer killing recipe

Just another WordPress.com site

dreamshadow59

A great WordPress.com site

Mike's Look at Life

Photography, memoirs, random thoughts.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Birthplace of James Madison and Southern Plantation

Letters for Michael

Lessons on being gay, of love, life and lots of it

Sunny Sleevez

Sun Protection & Green Info

Backcountry Tranquility

A journal about my travels and related experiences :)

LEANNE COLE

Art and Practice

Lukas Chodorowicz

Travel, culture and lifestyle experienced on my adventures around the world. All photos taken by me. Instagram: @colorspark

BunnyandPorkBelly

life is always sweeter and yummier through a lens. bunnyandporkbelly [at] gmail [dot] com

%d bloggers like this: