Second Amendment

5 Democratic senators point to NRA support for Kavanaugh in urging SCOTUS to drop gun case

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The city of New York and five Democratic senators are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss a Second Amendment case as moot because the city revised the gun rules at issue.

The senators argue in an amicus brief that the National Rifle Association and other dark money groups engineered the case before the court and engineered the current Republican-appointed majority to the court, according to a press release.

The Aug. 12 brief points to a $1.2 million NRA ad campaign supporting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

The brief says 55% of the public thinks the Supreme Court is “mainly motivated by politics” and rejecting the case as moot could help the court heal itself.

The Supreme Court plans to consider whether to dismiss the case the week of Oct. 1, the Washington Post reports.

Some fear that if the Supreme Court decides the case, it will be used to decide that the right to have a gun extends outside the home.

The regulations at issue had barred New York City residents from transporting handguns beyond city limits. Revisions to the rules allow licensed gun owners to transport their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside New York City, SCOTUSblog reports.

The Democratic senators who submitted the amicus brief are Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Richard Durbin of Illinois, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Whitehouse is the counsel of record on the brief.

Courts should not undertake political projects intended to settle hypothetical disagreements, according to the senators. “Yet this is precisely—and explicitly—what petitioners ask the court to do in this case, in the wake of a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to shape this court’s composition, no less, and an industrial-strength influence campaign aimed at this court.”

The brief says the NRA ad campaign urged potential swing-vote senators to support Kavanaugh because he was nominated to break the tie between four liberal and four conservative justices with opposing views on gun rights. Kavanaugh dissented in 2011 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a ban on some semi-automatic rifles.

The brief also points to efforts to shape the federal judiciary by the Federalist Society with money from anonymous donors. Anonymous donations are also made to at least 32 of about 60 amicus groups supporting the challenge to the gun law, the brief says.

Lars Dalseide, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, commented in an email sent to the ABA Journal. “This brief is nothing more than a desperate attempt by anti-gun politicians hoping to prop up New York City’s blatantly unconstitutional prohibition on the transport of legally owned firearms outside the home,” Dalseide said.

The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. to include Dalseide’s statement.

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