Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge to Illinois ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban…Yet

AR-15 rifle muzzle devices
(Photo credit: Kat Stevens)

Earlier today, the Supreme Court denied cert in Barnett v. Raoul, a case challenging Illinois’ “assault weapons” ban and magazine capacity limit. And while that’s disappointing, it’s not entirely unexpected. The application for cert was made as part of an appeal for a preliminary injunction blocking the law…but the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t yet heard and ruled on the case.

The Court is generally hesitant to get involved in a case before the lower court has issued its final judgement. So there’s nothing preventing them from hearing the case once it’s heard by the Seventh Circuit, which is scheduled to hear the case in September.

Here’s the NSSF’s reaction to today’s news which sums up the current situation pretty well . . .

NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association, is disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of a writ of certiorari in Barnett v. Raoul, one of several challenges to Illinois’ bans on Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs) and standard-capacity magazines. The decision not to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s decision at this early stage of the litigation, while disappointing, does not mean the Supreme Court will not review the matter later after final judgment.

The Supreme Court denied review now because the U.S. Court of Appeals has not yet issued a final judgment. Justice Samuel Alito, however, would have granted the petition now. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “This Court is rightly wary of taking cases in an interlocutory posture. But, I hope we will consider the important issue presented by these petitions after the cases reach final judgment.”

Justice Thomas concluded Illinois’ bans are “highly suspect,” finding it “difficult to see how the Seventh Circuit could have concluded that the most widely owned semiautomatic rifles are not ‘Arms’ protected by the Second Amendment.” He added, “But, if the Seventh Circuit ultimately allows Illinois to ban America’s most common civilian rifle, we can—and should—review that decision once the cases reach a final judgment. The Court must not permit ‘the Seventh Circuit [to] relegat[e] the Second Amendment to a second-class right.’”

“We are disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to accept this challenge at this time to what is clearly an unconstitutional law,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Modern Sporting Rifle – or AR-15-style rifle – is the most popular-selling centerfire rifle in America, used for lawful purposes every day. That includes recreational target shooting, hunting and self-defense. These rifles are clearly ‘Arms’ that are protected by the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens to keep and bear.”

There are over 28.1 million MSRs in circulation today, more than there are Ford F-150s on the road today– the most popular-selling pick-up truck in America.

The challenge to Illinois’ ban on MSRs and standard-capacity magazines, Barnett v. Raoul, will now proceed to trial later this year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

3 Responses

  1. I’m not overly-concerned, they’ll get to it, they will be hearing frames and receivers and pistol braces next term…

    1. Geoff,

      One thing people constantly elide over is that . . . SCOTUS normally passes on the VAST majority of cases submitted. In 2A cases, in particular, SCOTUS is reluctant to jump in. Fortunately, nowadays (with Saint Clarence on duty), they seem to wait for cases that feature (i) obviously bogus laws, and (ii) decent supporting facts (oh, and really idiotic lower court decision (i.e., from CA, HI, NY, NJ, 9th Circuit, 1st, 2nd, and DC circuits), or particularly GOOD lower court ruling, like Benitez). If you’re gonna push back on the hoplophobic fascists, it pays to get the record set up.

      Not that any “liberal” justice cares a fig about the law or the Constitution, but even a theoretical “post-packing” Leftist court is going to be hard-put to “explain” overturning Bruen. Not that that will stop them, but it will be intellectually interesting to watch the contortions – Cirque du Soleil and Ringling Bros. have nothing on a Leftist ‘jurist’ committing legal sophistry!!

      1. “…even a theoretical “post-packing” Leftist court is going to be hard-put to “explain” overturning Bruen.”

        They respect jack-shit.

        When they regain control of the court the first thing they will do is rule ‘Heller’ was wrongly decided, and once that happens every other pro-2A ruling will be easy to topple.

        What we have to do in the meantime is sell the concept to the public that the 2A is critical to freedom. Fortunately for us, the major growing demographic is rapidly seeing things our way on a range of basic freedom issues. That’s what’s keeping Florida red instead of blue.

        In 2 or 3 major elections, they will be demanding to seal the border against all those ‘racist’ MAGA-supporting Latinos… 😉

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