After nearly a decade of silence, the Supreme Court finally takes another Second Amendment case. And it’s a doozy, on New York’s “eccentric and abusive” ban on gun transport [Ilya Shapiro, Cato, Jacob Sullum (including headline), Dave Kopel (“eccentric and abusive”), Joyce Lee Malcolm on New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. City of New York, New York]
In the New York Times, financial writer Andrew Ross Sorkin asks why credit card companies and banks should not be made to monitor customers’ accounts for unusual gun purchases and share the information with law enforcers. Excerpts from my response at Cato.
…In an advocacy piece imperfectly dressed up as a news story, New York Times financial reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin observes that some perpetrators of mass public shootings have bought guns and ammo using credit cards, and asks why credit card companies and banks should not be made to stop this. How? Well, they could “create systems to track gun purchases that would allow them to report suspicious patterns” and “prevent [customers] from buying multiple guns in a short period of time.” Invoking the Patriot Act – you knew that was coming, didn’t you? – the piece goes on to ask why the sweeping financial-snooping powers bestowed on the feds by that act should not be deployed against everyday civilians who purchase more guns than would seem fit for them to buy.,,,
The piece mentions one reason gun dealers are reluctant to pass on to banks information about what products their customers buy: someone else might come into possession of the list and know to pitch guns to those names. It doesn’t spell out nearly as clearly what might seem a bigger fear about a who-bought-guns data file, namely that it would go a long way toward identifying owners once confiscation of existing weaponry gets on the table as a proposal. The ACLU may not care about gun rights, but as Sorkin concedes, one of its policy analysts gets to much the same point by a different route: “The implication of expecting the government to detect and prevent every mass shooting is believing the government should play an enormously intrusive role in American life.”
Whole piece here.
- Kansas Supreme Court rules 4-3 that cops can conduct warrantless search of private homes if they say they smell marijuana. Practical difference between this and “…whenever they please” is not clear [Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal] More: Jacob Sullum;
- At Timbs v. Indiana oral argument, Court seems sympathetic to idea of applying Excessive Fines clause to the states [Robby Soave, Jacob Sullum, Ilya Somin, earlier here, here, and here] Notwithstanding Justice Gorsuch and Kavanaugh’s interjections, there is and has been no uniform incorporation of the entire Bill of Rights against the states [Rory Little]
- Arizona Supreme Court should recognize that First Amendment protects right of calligraphic art studio not to be forced to draw invitations and vows for wedding ceremony of which owner/artists disapprove on religious grounds [Ilya Shapiro and Patrick Moran on Cato Institute amicus brief in Brush & Nib Studio v. City of Phoenix]
- Claim: notwithstanding SCOTUS precedent to the contrary, U.S. Constitution contains no general federal power to restrict immigration [Ilya Somin and others, Cato Unbound symposium, more]
- “The Supreme Court Really Needs to Start Defining the Scope of the Second Amendment” [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato amicus brief in Mance v. Whitaker, interstate sales by gun dealers] “Bump Stock Rule Bumps Up Against the Constitution” [Shapiro and Larosiere] “The Most Common Firearm in America is Not a ‘Weapon of War’” [same on Cato amicus brief in Worman v. Healey, Massachusetts ban on “assault weapons”] Federal court strikes down as unconstitutional New York’s ban on nunchaku [AP, Lowering the Bar with previous coverage of lawyer’s quest]
- “An individual’s right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent.” That’s a recently adopted provision of the New Hampshire constitution. Now what does it mean? [David Post]
- So often those who seek to control the rest of us seem unable to achieve self-control. Case in point: sponsor of NY bill to search gun applicants’ social media accounts [Jon Campbell, Democrat and Chronicle, Sen. Rob Ortt on Twitter] More on Sen. Kevin Parker’s proposal: Scott Greenfield, and my earlier;
- Concerning an issue that Cato has warned about for many, many years, the emergency powers of the President [Elizabeth Goitein/The Atlantic, related video]
- Web accessibility suits hit colleges [Rick Karlin, Albany Times-Union], New York wineries [Brianne Garrett, Wine Spectator, Kathleen Willcox, Wine Searcher, Thomas Pellechia, Forbes], other defendants around New York [Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News, Jamie Herzlich/Newsday]
- “How the Feds Spy on Reporters” [Cato Daily Podcast with Julian Sanchez and Caleb Brown]
- Thread on what government subsidies have done to Canadian literature. Reason to resist letting subsidies be pushed further into US literary arts sector, let alone print news as some would like [Jonathan Kay Twitter thread]
- A likely story: “Scottish Grandpa Claims He Checked ‘Terrorist’ Box on Visa Form by Mistake” [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]
As our friend R.J. Lehmann observed the other day: “New York now wants to require people to hold a kind of insurance that it sanctioned the NRA and an insurance broker earlier this year for selling at all.” I explain in my new Cato post.
- “Asking a Fourth Amendment nerd why the police don’t just get a warrant is like asking an auto mechanic why drivers don’t just buy a new car.” [Orin Kerr on Twitter] “Judge Thapar Can Handle the Truth about the Fourth Amendment and Due Process” [Ilya Shapiro on police-search case of Morgan v. Fairfield County as well as public university due process case of Doe v. Michigan]
- “Indispensable Remedy: The Broad Scope of the Constitution’s Impeachment Power” [Gene Healy, Cato white paper and video feature] Michael Stokes Paulsen series at Law and Liberty on impeachment and originalism [introduction, developing a principled constitutional basis for use of the power, digression on Aaron Burr, special considerations of impeaching judges and presidents; on original meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” in context of English history and Framers’ debates]
- “Nonviolent Felons Shouldn’t Lose Their Second Amendment Rights” [Ilya Shapiro and Matthew Larosiere on Cato amicus in Seventh Circuit case of Hatfield v. Sessions]
- Court strikes down federal law banning female genital mutilation as overstepping constitutional authority [Eugene Volokh, Ilya Somin]
- Launched decades ago, advocates still hoping to reanimate: “The problem with zombie constitutional amendments” [Keith Whittington, Harvard Law Review on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and others; ABA Journal; related,
Gerard Magliocca on ratification deadlines]
- Unenumerated rights of constitutional stature should include familial rights of children as well as parents [Ilya Shapiro and Reilly Stephens on Cato amicus brief in Wisconsin Supreme Court case of Michels v. Lyons]
- Police show up to enforce gun confiscation order against Maryland man under new “red flag” law, he brandishes weapon, they shoot him dead [Leah Crawley and Ashley Barnett, Fox Baltimore; Colin Campbell, Baltimore Sun]
- Claim: “The Kavanaugh debacle cost the Democrats the Senate” [Marc Thiessen] If I cheer for Neomi Rao is it going to hurt her confirmation chances? [Jesus Rodriguez, Politico on nomination of OIRA head for Kavanaugh seat on D.C. Circuit]
- “Please conduct yourself accordingly”: Matthew Whitaker letter to man who complained about World Patent Marketing, on whose advisory board Whitaker sat [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
- Upholding FCPA prison term, Third Circuit rejects businessman’s argument that bribery deal helped pull population out of poverty in remote part of Siberia [Matt Miller, PennLive]
- Sidetracking a decision on the cy pres merits? Supreme Court calls for supplemental briefing on whether named plaintiffs in Frank v. Gaos “have suffered an ‘injury’ sufficient to create standing under the Court’s doctrine” [Ronald Mann/ SCOTUSBlog, Will Baude, earlier here, here, etc.]
- “Fun fact in an opinion today from the Federal Circuit: the Patent Office employs 14 examiners full time solely to examine patent applications filed by a single, prolific inventor.” [Andrew Trask, Gilbert Hyatt v. USPTO]
A federal judge has ruled the National Rifle Association can proceed with its First Amendment suit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his pressure on regulated banks, insurers to cut ties with gun rights advocacy groups like the NRA. “U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy questioned Cuomo’s claim that his messages about the wisdom and propriety of providing financial services to the NRA amount to nothing but legitimate regulatory oversight and protected government speech.” [Jacob Sullum and background, Eugene Volokh] “It is well-established under binding federal appeals court decisions that government officials like Cuomo are not allowed to pressure organizations or businesses to cut off services to someone because of their political stances or expression — even when the government official uses informal pressure as opposed to explicit threats. (See, e.g., Rattner v. Netburn, 930 F.2d 204 (2d Cir. 1991)).” [Hans Bader] Earlier here, here and here (ACLU files amicus brief defending NRA’s rights), etc.
I write at Cato about this appalling proposal. “The only way to make this proposal better – by which I mean worse – would be to arrange for New York to quarter troops on the homes of applicants with especially bad social media postings. That way the sponsors could achieve a straight flush of Bill of Rights violations.”
Last month we noted that the ACLU had filed a brief on the side of the NRA in its regulatory-retaliation First Amendment suit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The brief “strikes me as quite sound legally,” writes Eugene Volokh, who quotes and annotates its text. But the action has roused passionate opposition within the organization itself, reports Mark Joseph Stern at Slate. For example, the ACLU’s New York affiliate declined to join the brief and its officials issued a public statement critical of it. Among their arguments: the NRA “has enormous resources and is fully able to present its First Amendment claim.” Others argue that the dispute is at least in part fact-intensive and does not rest entirely on First Amendment issues, since Cuomo had denounced a particular insurance product marketed by the NRA as unlawful — although the governor’s own statements make clear that his call for regulators to squeeze the group’s finances went beyond that, and indeed included a call for them to put the squeeze on groups with advocacy missions similar to the NRA’s. Yet other factions within the ACLU charge that for it to side with the NRA is to advance “white supremacy.” More: Scott Greenfield.
The legal role the ACLU is playing here, it should be noted, is amicus, as distinct from pro bono defense. As Howard Wasserman, writing at PrawfsBlawg, notes:
The resources argument (putting aside whether it has any merit) strikes me as inapposite in this case. The ACLU is not representing the NRA in this case, so any expenditure of ACLU resources does not relieve the NRA of the burden to spend money on its own lawyers to make its own arguments. The benefit of the ACLU’s brief, on which it did expend some of its limited resources, is to the NRA’s legal position, not to its wallet. An argument that the ACLU not only should not represent well-resourced parties* but should not provide amicus support for well-resourced parties seems over-inclusive, tying the merits of a party’s constitutional position to the money in its bank account.