Ninety-four members of Congress are asking the Supreme Court to hear a challenge to a Massachusetts “assault weapons ban” enacted by Attorney General Maura Healey, who announced in 2016 that the ban, which was originally passed in 1998, had been wrongly interpreted for the past eighteen years, and was actually far broader and more all-encompassing than the way it had originally been enforced. Gun owners, firearms retailers, and Second Amendment groups cried foul and sued over Healey’s decision, which amounted to new law via a legal opinion rather than legislation.
The case, called Worman v. Healey, has made its way up to the Supreme Court, where it was first listed in conference for consideration in late September. A number of organizations, including the National African American Gun Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and the National Rifle Association have filed amicus briefs urging the court to take the case, along with the ninety-four members of Congress, who argue that lower courts are not abiding by the Court’s opinions in the Heller and McDonald cases, and that “ensuring the lower courts apply the appropriate framework to analyze new restrictions and properly protect the fundamental right to keep and bear arms requires a clear command from this Court.”
The brief argues that not only are lower court judges using a lower standard of review in determining the constitutionality of gun laws, they’re cherry picking quotes from the Heller decision to try to justify their rulings.
It’s a solid brief. It’s a shame (and somewhat concerning) that there were only 94 members of Congress to sign on to the amicus brief, but I appreciate every one of them who did. One lawmaker who signed the brief is Elise Stefanik, a representative from upstate New York who says a decision reversing Maura Healey’s gun ban could provide an opportunity to challenge the New York SAFE Act and its ban on new semi-automatic firearms deemed “assault weapons”.
For those reasons, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will make a decision any time soon as to whether or not it will take the Massachusetts gun ban case. I suspect the earliest we’d hear anything from the Court is early 2020, but we may see more amicus briefs arguing for the Court to accept the case in the meantime.
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