One of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s last official acts was to join Justice Clarence Thomas in complaining that the Supreme Court risked “relegating the Second Amendment to a second-class right” when it let stand an Illinois city’s ban on owning semiautomatic weapons. Since then, the court has fallen silent on gun issues, but an appeal filed at the court last week could change that, reports the New York Times. It asks the justices to decide the major question left open by its 2008 the Heller decision striking down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban: whether the Second Amendment protects the right to carry a gun outside the home. If the court decides to hear the case, the argument would take place when a Trump administration justice will have taken Scalia’s place.
It will be at least late next month before the justices announce whether they will hear Peruta v. California, filed on behalf of five California gun owners and a gun-rights organization. The fact that the appeal is pending is bound to play a role during the confirmation hearings for the next Supreme Court nominee; President Donald Trump called on “Second Amendment people” to vote for him to prevent Hillary Clinton from being able to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with a justice opposed to gun interests. By a 7-4 vote, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said in the Peruta case: “Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the Second Amendment — whatever the scope of that protection may be — simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public.”