SCOTUS Sends Seven Gun Control Challenge Cases to its May 16th Conference for Consideration

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In a move with potential national implications, the US Supreme Court has assigned seven gun ban-related cases to a May 16, 2024 conference for review. The cases, six from Illinois and the Bianchi case from Maryland, contend that gun bans (and magazine bans) are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, along with the rulings in the Heller and Bruen decisions. The conference could lead to the acceptance of the appeals for action by the nation’s highest court.

The six cases from Illinois are Harrel v. Raoul, Herrera vs. Raoul, Barnett v. Raoul, NAGR v. Naperville (the Bevis case), Langley v. Kelly and GOA v. Raoul. The Maryland case is Bianchi v. Frosh.

Getting assigned to a conference for consideration by the entire court is the most common way writs of certiorari (appeals) to the US Supreme Court are accepted. The overwhelming majority of appeals to SCOTUS are rejected without making it to a conference.  As such, it’s easy to see why the news has buoyed the pro-self-defense teams in both Illinois and Maryland.

From the Center Square . . .

Cases challenging gun and magazine bans, including several lawsuits from Illinois, have been distributed for an upcoming conference of the U.S. Supreme Court.

After Illinois banned more than 170 semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities in January 2023, federal lawsuits were filed. Appeals of separate preliminary actions against the law were shot down by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last year. Plaintiffs in February asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court moved several Illinois cases, and one challenging Maryland’s ban, to conference for May 16, 2024.

“It’s very significant because we’ve been trying very hard to get a case to the Supreme Court dealing with these issues and I think now we’re going to get there,” the Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb told The Center Square.

Gottlieb expects if the court does take the cases, they will be consolidated.

Indeed. Among those cases is GOA v. Raoul which includes Guns Save Life as a co-plaintiff. I serve as the executive director of GSL and we couldn’t be more proud and humbled that we’re among those at the tip of the spear seeking to remedy this legal insurrection by a few appellate and district courts thumbing their noses at the Bruen decision along with Heller and the Second Amendment.

Here’s the Second Amendment’s press release cheering the inclusion of the two cases they’re a party to . . .

Two Second Amendment Foundation cases challenging bans on so-called “assault weapons” and magazine capacity—one in Illinois and the other in Maryland—are among cases distributed Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court for conference May 16.

The cases are known as Harrel v. Raoul and Bianchi v. Frosh. They were accompanied by cases known as Gun Owners of America v. Raoul, Caleb Barnett v. Raoul and Javier Herrera v. Raoul.

“Today, the Supreme Court’s docket reflected that both of our cases challenging Illinois’ and Maryland’s ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’ were distributed for conference,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “We are hopeful that the Court will discuss these cases during their next conference in mid-May and ultimately grant cert so that millions of Americans can enjoy the same Second Amendment rights their counterparts do throughout the country. It is time for the Supreme Court to confirm that these modern firearms are in fact protected by the Second Amendment.”

“We’re encouraged that these five cases, all essentially dealing with the same issue in two different federal court circuits, were distributed for Supreme Court conference at the same time,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb acknowledged. “This could be the signal for which we have been waiting, that the Supreme Court may be ready to consider cases challenging bans on the most popular firearm in America todayand their magazines. These firearms are owned by millions of peaceable citizens, and because they are in common use, they certainly qualify for Second Amendment protection.”

At this time, SAF would like to recognize and thank its partners in our two cases, including the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Field Traders LLC, the Illinois State Rifle Association, C4 Gun Store, Marengo Guns and the individual citizens who stepped forward to be part of this important litigation.

SAF has long been engaged in strategic litigation, working to get the right cases advanced through the court system, in an effort to fulfill its mission of winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time.

4 Responses

  1. Mark N. believes they won’t touch them, I hope Thomas is getting tired of their foot-dragging and bitch-slaps them into next week…

  2. Sorry John, but your analysis of SCOTUS practice is not accurate. While it’s OK to think positively, don’t let wishful thinking color a realistic view of what’s going on. (BTW, the Maryland case is now styled Bianchi v. Brown.)

    Contrary to your statement that “The overwhelming majority of appeals to SCOTUS are rejected without making it to a conference,” the truth is that virtually *ALL* cert petitions “go to conference” at some point. But just because they “go to conference” doesn’t mean the Court will actually discuss them — the vast number of them are just on a list that’s essentially, “OK, these are the cases that have been fully briefed. Nobody has indicated interest in taking them up, so they’ll be on the “cert denied” order list that comes out of the conference. Speak now or hold your peace.”

    What’s uncommon, and a potential indication of a potential cert grant, is if a cert petition is “re-listed’; i.e., it went to conference but is then “re-listed” for discussion at a later conference . . . which is an indication that at least one Justice is interested. (Remember, it takes the votes of four Justices to grant cert, and typically they don’t want to vote to grant cert unless you’re pretty sure their side will prevail — that’s why we saw so many post-MacDonald cases that should have been taken being denied: the court was in a classic Mexican Standoff, with four pro-2A votes, four anti-2A votes, and the unpredictable Anthony Kennedy in the middle. Neither side wanted to take a case that they could well lose and thus significantly alter the existing legal landscape.)

    I’m not seeing that any of these cases have been relisted. The fact that a lot of them were referred to conference at the same time may well indicate some interest in them, but from the dockets I’m not seeing anything remarkable. Recall too that just because a case goes to conference doesn’t mean the court can’t simply “hold” it — which they typically do if there’s a pending cert grant that might provide a rule of decision for that case.

    My guess is that all of these will be held pending the Rahimi decision, with a good chance that many will just be GVR’d (cert GRANTED, judgment VACATED, case REMANDED for reconsideration in light of Rahimi).

    1. LKB is a lawyer who, IIRC, argues cases at the federal level. He’s also a member of the SCotUS bar, that means he and other SCotUS bar members get preferential seating during court oral arguments, and he has reported back what his in-person impressions were during those arguments.

      If he comments on gun cases, you can pretty much take what he says to the proverbial bank…

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