Five Democratic senators have filed a brief advising the Supreme Court either to drop a New York gun case it has accepted for the coming term or face a public reckoning, the Washington Post reports. “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it,” writes Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is listed as the attorney of record on the friend-of-the-court brief. “Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be ‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’ ” The phrase is from a poll question with which a majority of Americans agreed. Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono (HI), Richard Blumenthal (CT) Richard Durbin (IL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) joined the incendiary brief, which questions whether the court’s conservative majority — nominated by three Republican presidents — is motivated by partisan intent and is in the pocket of the National Rifle Association.
The brief has lit up the right. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called it an extraordinary threat from one branch of government to another. Whitehouse told the Post he was cautioning the court, not threatening it. “In the same way that you might warn somebody walking out on thin ice — ‘Hey, the ice is thin out there, you want to be careful, maybe you want to come in’ — I think that was the motivation for filing this brief,”he said. The case involves now-rescinded New York restrictions that forbade taking an unloaded weapon to a firing range outside the city or to a permit-holder’s second home within the state. It is the first Second Amendment case the court has accepted in a decade. The two sides are sparring over whether the dropping of the regulations renders the case moot, which the court is scheduled to consider Oct. 1.