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calendar   Monday - March 02, 2020

No SCOTUS Bump For Bump Stocks

Supremes Won’t Take Bump Stock Case Until Lower Courts Weigh In

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s regulatory ban on bump stocks, with one of the court’s Trump-appointed justices explaining that the issue needs more time to work through in the lower courts.

The case at hand — Guedes v. ATF — turns heavily on a Supreme Court precedent known as “Chevron deference.” The term was coined after the 1984 Chevron v. NRDC ruling, which provided a framework for when courts should defer to federal agencies’ “reasonable interpretation” of vague laws passed by instead of imposing their own. Conservatives have long taken issue with the precedent, arguing that it gives too much power to the administrative state.

In 2018, the Justice Department announced the new regulation classifying bump stocks as “machine guns” under federal law, despite the fact that they do not change the firing action of a semi-automatic firearm.

In their petition for the Supreme Court to take up the case, the plaintiffs argued that lower courts had incorrectly applied Chevron precedent in upholding the bump stock ban, and should have instead applied a different, less deferential standard for evaluating it.

...

In an opinion explaining why the Guedes petition was denied, Justice Neil Gorsuch agreed with the idea that the Chevron deference had been incorrectly applied, noting that the administration had even asked the lower court to waive it.

“The executive branch and affected citizens asked the court to do what courts usually do in statutory interpretation disputes: supply its best independent judgment about what the law means,” the justice wrote. “But, instead of deciding the case the old-fashioned way, the court placed an uninvited thumb on the scale in favor of the government.

Gorsuch went on to write that deferring to the government’s interpretation of the law might not be appropriate for other reasons, too.

“The agency used to tell everyone that bump stocks don’t qualify as ‘machine guns.’ Now it says the opposite,” the justice wrote.

“The law hasn’t changed, only an agency’s interpretation of it. And these days it sometimes seems agencies change their statutory interpretations almost as often as elections change administrations,”
...
“Before deciding whether to weigh in, we would benefit from hearing their considered judgments — provided, of course, that they are not afflicted with the same problems,” Gorsuch concluded. “But waiting should not be mistaken for lack of concern.”

As much as I respect President Trump, I think he was rather knee-jerk in this situation. Sure, I think these are rather silly devices, and that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch. But the way to handle this is through level headed legislation ... if you can find some.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 03/02/2020 at 04:42 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun ControlJudges-Courts-Lawyers •  
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