Published: Wed, February 21, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Justice Thomas Blasts Supreme Court For Undermining Gun Rights

Justice Thomas Blasts Supreme Court For Undermining Gun Rights

The decision comes at lawmakers debate gun control following last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead.

In his 14-page dissent from the denial of review, Thomas focused his unhappiness with that decision at both his colleagues and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had upheld the waiting period.

California is one of eight states that require waiting periods before the purchase of a gun; other than Hawaii, it is the longest cooling off period.


They focused their challenge only on the cooling-off period, Thomas wrote, quoting the finding by the trial court that only 20 percent of background checks are approved automatically and completed in less than two hours. But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this court. That is not the kind of rigorous examination required of laws restricting an enumerated constitutional right, Thomas wrote. The challengers specifically questioned the state's interest in the cooling off period for individuals who already owned firearms.

They argued the waiting period is unconstitutional when it's applied to "subsequent purchasers" - individuals who already own a firearm according to California's AFS database or have a valid concealed-carry license and individuals who clear a background check in less than 10 days. "And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message". Silvester v. Harris, 843 F. 3d 816, 828 (CA9 2016).

The court denied a petition for certiorari [text, PDF] filed by two California plaintiffs in conjunction with the Second Amendment Foundation and the Calguns Foundation [advocacy websites] in October.


One of the court's staunchest conservatives, Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented from the decision to reject the case and accused his colleagues of showing contempt toward constitutional protections for gun rights. And, he said, the court had not clarified the standard for reviewing gun regulations for nearly 10 years.

If a lower court treated another right so cavalierly, I have little doubt that this court would intervene.

Thomas' primary grievance with the lower court's decision in Silvester is he thinks that the court of appeals should have started with a stronger presumption against gun regulation. "The Ninth Circuit would not have done this for any other constitutional right", Thomas maintained. It said the 10-day waiting period is a reasonable safety precaution for all purchasers of firearms and need not be suspended once a purchaser has been approved. SCOTUS has never been eager to weigh in on state and local gun-regulation matters, and has yet to come even close to the fashionable if risky conservative idea that the Founders wanted good, patriotic Americans to be armed to the teeth in case it became necessary to overthrow their own government - you know, for tyrannical acts like gun regulation.


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