SCOTUS Refuses to Hear Major Gun Rights Case, Clarence Thomas Files Sharp Dissent

Petition denied in Jackson v. San Francisco.


Credit: C-SPAN

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt Second Amendment supporters a major defeat today by refusing to hear an appeal filed by San Francisco gun owners seeking to overturn that city's requirement that all handguns kept at home and not carried on the owner's person be "stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock." Today's action by the Court leaves that gun control ordinance on the books.

If the facts of the San Francisco case sound familiar it is because they correspond so closely to the facts at issue in the Supreme Court's 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. In that decision, the Court voided not only D.C.'s ban on handguns, it also voided D.C.'s requirement that all firearms kept at home be "unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device." According to Heller, the Second Amendment protects the right of the people to keep a "lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."

In other words, the San Francisco gun control law would appear to be plainly unconstitutional under Heller. Yet the Court still refused to hear the case. As is customary, the justices gave no explanation for their denial of the appeal.

Two justices, however, did speak out in opposition to the Court's refusal to get involved. Writing in dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, accused his colleagues of undermining Heller and failing to give the Second Amendment its constitutional due. Here's a portion of Thomas' dissent:

Less than a decade ago, we explained that an ordinance requiring firearms in the home to be kept inoperable, without an exception for self-defense, conflicted with the Second Amendment because it "ma[de] it impossible for citizens to use [their firearms] for the core lawful purpose of self- defense." District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, 630 (2008). Despite the clarity with which we described the Second Amendment's core protection for the right of self-defense, lower courts, including the ones here, have failed to protect it. Because Second Amendment rights are no less protected by our Constitution than other rights enumerated in that document, I would have granted this petition.

The case is Jackson v. San Francisco. Justice Thomas' dissent from denial of certiorari is available here.