SCOTUS Accepts Carry Case

In Orders of the Court released this morning, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in NY State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett et al. This is a case that challenges New York’s requirement to show cause for issuance of a carry permit.

20-843 NEW YORK STATE RIFLE, ET AL. V. CORLETT, KEITH M., ET AL.


The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to
the following question: Whether the State’s denial of
petitioners’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for
self-defense violated the Second Amendment.

From the Washington Post:

The court will hear the challenge to a century-old New York gun control law in the term that begins in October. It is considering a law that requires those who seek a permit to carry a concealed weapon show a special need for self-defense. It is similar to laws in Maryland, Massachusetts and elsewhere that the court in the past has declined to review.

The individual plaintiffs in the case – Robert Nash and Brandon Koch – have permits to carry outside the home for hunting and target practice purposes. However, they were turned down when they requested carry permits for self-defense.

It takes four justices to agree to take a case. Last year, the court turned down a number of Second Amendment cases. The operating consensus was that the conservatives on the court were unsure of where Chief Justice John Roberts would come down. Now, however, with the addition of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, that has changed and there are five potentially reliable Second Amendment votes.

Assuming that the court agrees that there carry outside the home for self-defense is a key component of the Second Amendment, Chief Justice Roberts will have a hard decision. If he goes along with the majority, he gets to assign the opinion or reserve it for himself. If he is in the minority, then the assignment choice goes to the longest serving Associate Justice in the majority. In this case that would be Justice Clarence Thomas who has telegraphed many times his frustration with the court’s refusal to treat the Second Amendment as any thing other than a second-class right. Part of me hopes that Roberts is in the minority because that means a stronger decision in favor of the Second Amendment.

Pay To Play In California?

California is one of the few remaining “may issue” states. Given yesterday’s refusal by the Supreme Court to consider a number of carry cases, that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

While some counties in California are effectively “shall issue”, the majority are not. That is the case with Santa Clara County which includes cities like San Jose.

This has led to charges of favoritism towards campaign donors to Sheriff Laurie Smith. NBC News Bay Area has done an investigative report on the issue. They found that there were 749 new applications for a carry permit in the 2014-2018 time period. If you were not a donor to the sheriff’s re-election coffers, you had about a 5.5% chance of obtaining a permit. However, if you were one of the 28 people who donated either directly or indirectly, your chances skyrocketed to a 79% approval rate.

While Sheriff Laurie Smith denies any correlation between campaign donations and CCW permits, the issue is still under investigation by the Santa Clara County DA’s office.

Rob, who publishes 2A Updates on Twitter, noted, “Wow hard to believe a permit system where an elected official has unlimited discretion to approve or deny applications would result in political favoritism.”

This generated a response on Twitter to the effect that the Sheriff should just post the going amount to obtain a permit so that people could budget for it.

The system in California and other states where carry permits are “may issue” is ripe for abuse. You have seen cases in New York City where police officials have been arrested on charges of accepting bribes to issue permits.

Sheriff Smith’s campaign donation approach is just a little less obvious than an envelope full of cash – but not by much.