Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Halts NYC’s Flight from Review under Second Amendment

Statue at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The first Monday in October is a day that excites Supreme Court followers everywhere. It marks the start of the Supreme Court’s new term. The first Monday in October this year, however, was also a day that excited Second Amendment advocates and supporters.

On the Supreme Court’s first official day of its 2019–2020 term, the Court denied New York City’s Suggestion of Mootness in the case N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York. In so doing, the Court guaranteed that this case will proceed to oral argument in December of this year.

This case arose as a result of NYC’s unconstitutional ban on transporting a licensed handgun outside city limits. For the past six years, NYC has vehemently defended its handgun transportation ban, but only at the last minute sought to avoid Supreme Court review when city officials realized the odds of success weren’t in their favor.

In a clear attempt to evade the Court’s review, New York City officials amended the underlying regulation. After amending the regulation, New York contended that the case was now moot, meaning that Petitioners have already received the relief they sought. Essentially, in New York’s eyes Petitioners already won, so they are arguing that the Court need not weigh in.

The Supreme Court saw directly through this ploy. After the Suggestion of Mootness was distributed to the justices on October 1, they had their first session on October 7 and immediately denied the Suggestion.

But we’re not out of the woods yet.

In denying the Suggestion, the Court informed the parties that the question of mootness “will be subject to further consideration at oral argument, and the parties should be prepared to discuss it.” In other words, the Court may still deem the case moot, and not make a binding decision about the Second Amendment or the other constitutional claims.

But the parties will have their day before the Supreme Court — and that is the key. This also means that the Second Amendment will have its day in court for the first time in almost ten years.

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