Will Ginsburg Replacement Yield Pro-Gun High Court?

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The Supreme Court of the United States. Photo by Matt Wade via Flickr

A right-leaning Supreme Court has repeatedly declined opportunities to expand gun rights. This year, the justices voted against including ten different Second Amendment petitions on the docket.

The court’s most consequential decision on gun policy remains the Heller case, which upended centuries of precedent by finding that the right to bear arms extends to individual Americans.

It issued that 5-4 ruling 12 years ago. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg could break the dam, reports The Trace. Ginsburg joined the dissent in Heller. In her view, the Second Amendment as drafted by the founders did not apply to contemporary gun owners.

Ginsburg was among the bloc that voted against having the court hear more recent legal challenges to state and local gun laws. Should President Donald Trump be able to fill her seat this fall, the court’s new alignment could determine that future pro-gun cases clear the hurdle that has prevented other petitions from receiving a ruling.

It takes only four of nine justices for the Supreme Court to accept a case for consideration. Still, gun cases have failed to clear the threshold for receiving a hearing.

“Some court-watchers think that there’s been hesitation to grant a gun case because the views of Chief Justice John Roberts aren’t certain, one way or the other,” said Duke Law School scholar Joseph Blocher.

With Roberts as a possible swing vote against their side, the other conservative justices may think it’s too risky to bring a gun rights case up for arguments. Another Trump appointee may change the math.

“If Justice Ginsburg is replaced by a conservative originalist,” Blocher said, “then there’s likely a solid five-justice majority that could confidently accept a gun rights case knowing that it will control the result.”

See also: High Court Refuses to Hear New Gun Rights Cases, The Crime Report, June 15, 2020

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