Are gun rights safe after S.B. 8?

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear, on an expedited basis, the pleas of abortion providers to stop Texas’s draconian and unusual six-week abortion ban, the challengers had an unlikely ally: the Firearms Policy Coalition, an active and assertive gun-rights organization. A key aspect of the fight over Texas’ Senate Bill 8 , or S.B. 8, is how the law purports to insulate itself from federal court review by allowing only private individuals, not government officials, to enforce its provisions. Firearms Policy Coalition filed an amicus brief arguing that Texas’ scheme threatened not only a right to reproductive autonomy but also Second Amendment rights. Though the brief disclaimed any ultimate stance on whether the Constitution protects the right to abortion, it underscored that the state’s approach “could just as easily be used by other states to restrict First and Second Amendment rights or, indeed, virtually any settled or debated constitutional right.” That brief — and the many others from those opposed to S.B. 8 — did not persuade enough justices. On Friday, the court issued an opinion that gave the providers a nominal victory in allowing their suit to proceed against certain medical licensing officials, but on the whole, undercut the ability to get meaningful pre-enforcement review against other state officials, like the state attorney general, state court clerks who docket the lawsuits, or state court judges who hear them. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said: “The truth is . . . those seeking to challenge […]

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