Second Amendment cases up early
The Supreme Court will consider two new cases on the scope of individuals’ Second Amendment right to have guns at its first Conference for the new Term, on Sept. 29, according to the Court’s electronic docket. Both petitions challenge a Seventh Circuit Court ruling that the Amendment does not restrict gun control laws adopted by state, county or city government, but applies only to federal laws. The cases are National Rifle Association v. Chicago (08-1497) and McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521).
The so-called “incorporation” issue is the most significant sequel issue raised in the wake of the Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, recognizing for the first time a personal right to have a gun for self-defense, at least in one’s home.
If the Court agrees to hear the new cases after its first look, that could be announced as early as the day after the Conference — that is, on Wed., Sept. 30. The first Conference of a new Term customarily is held in advance of the Term’s formal opening; this year, the Term starts Oct. 5.
The Court has not yet scheduled a time to consider another pending case on the Second Amendment issue — Maloney v. Rice (08-1592). The response in that case is now due on Aug. 28. The new Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, took part in the Maloney case when she was on the Second Circuit Court. Like the Seventh Circuit, the Second found that the Second Amendment only applies to federal laws. When the Justices consider the Maloney case, Sotomayor is not expected to take part. The fact that she had taken part in a ruling on the issue in one case, however, would not require her to withdraw from considering cases from other Circuits, like the Chicago cases.