Much has been made of the decision of the Supreme Court to reject a request for an injunction of a New York law limiting gun rights. New York Attorney General Letitia James went public to celebrate the “decision” while saying that the “gun safety laws help save lives, and keep our state safer.” In reality, there is less than meets the eye in this action . . . far less. There are ample reasons for the Court to deny in motion even if the majority views the underlying law as likely unconstitutional. The celebrations, therefore, may be a tad premature.
I have written a series of columns criticizing the new law passed after the Court’s ruling in June 2022 in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen.
Lower courts have struck down the new provisions.
The challengers may have hoped that prior interactions with the Court might have prompted more aggressive action from the justices. The state has been openly gaming litigation to the irritation of individual justices.
After each loss, the same politicians circle the firing squad again and pass the next round of questionable gun limits. New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul promised such legislation within an hour of the release of Bruen. It passed with the help of a special session in the resumption of this inexorable cycle and has already resulted in court losses.
The request was denied in a one-line order and some were alarmed by the fact there was not a single dissenting vote or statement from the justices. Paloma Capanna, the lead attorney for the New York gun retailers, stated “we are disappointed that not one of the nine justices saw fit to grant the plaintiffs some stay of enforcement of the new laws against them.”
However, the question before the Court was not the merits, but the process. It should not have come as much of a surprise a week after the justices rejected a prior motion to block the Concealed Carry Improvement Act.
In that earlier order, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined with a statement that the court’s denial was not “expressing any view on the merits of the case.” The Court yielded to the procedures of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit while noting that the law “presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments.”
In light of that earlier positions, it would have been strange for the Court to do anything other than summarily reject this second motion.