Monday, October 3, 2011

Supreme Court Opens October Term

The U.S. Supreme Court opened its October Term today. While it will have contentious cases dealing with ObamaCare, gay marriage, and Arizona's immigration on the docket, only one - at best - Second Amendment case might be heard this year.

In their Orders released this morning, the Supreme Court denied certiorari for Williams v. Maryland. This was the case appealed from the Maryland Court of Appeals involving Charles Williams who had legally purchased a pistol in that state and who was arrested while transporting the pistol from his girlfriend's home to his own. He was sentenced to a year in prison for unlawful transportation of a firearm without a permit.

The Maryland Court of Appeals opinion said, in essence, that there was no right to the Second Amendment outside the home. The decision included gems such as this:
it is clear that prohibition of firearms in the home was the gravamen of the certiorari questions in both Heller and McDonald and their answers. If the Supreme Court, in this dicta, meant its holding to extend beyond home possession, it will need to say so more plainly.
And this:
We shall hold that Section 4-203(a)(1)(i) of the Criminal Law Article, which prohibits wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun, without a permit and outside of one’s home, is outside of the scope of the Second Amendment.

With Williams gone, this leave Masciandaro v. United States still open. It was docketed in June of this year on appeal from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Solicitor General's Office was granted an extension of time to file a response to Sean Masciandaro's petition until October 11th.

The Masciandaro case involves the arrest of Sean Masciandaro for possession of a firearm on National Park Service property. He had been driving home, felt himself falling asleep at the wheel, and pulled over to catch a little rest. Unfortunately, it was on Park Service property and he was arrested by U.S. Park Police after being informed of it by Mr. Masciandaro himself. Congressional action changed the law after his arrest but before his trial.

The Second Amendment Foundation has filed an amicus brief in this case authored by Alan Gura.

We will have to wait to see whether the Supreme Court grants certiorari in this case or not. In the meantime, the Wall Street Journal has a good video summation of what to expect in this term.

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