Justice Thomas delivers pro-gun rant just days after the Parkland shooting

Justice Clarence Thomas. Credit Diego M. Radzinschi ALM

Justice Clarence Thomas. Credit Diego M. Radzinschi ALM

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a challenge to a California law that requires there be a 10-day waiting period after all gun sales, even if the person is already a registered gun owner.

As previously mentioned, the Supreme Courts decision comes on the heels of the widely reported school shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14.

California's "cooling off period" is the second longest in the country, according to court documents, and was enacted to give state authorities time to run a background check and give individuals who might want the firearm to harm themselves or others an opportunity to calm down. While those laws reflected the wisdom of "thousands of years of human history in every society known to have populated the planet", they faced a much tougher time in the Ninth Circuit than California's new and unusual waiting period for firearms.

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Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court has been much more attentive to other constitutional rights and would surely have mustered the four votes needed to put a case on the court's docket had a different right been at issue. What is worse, he wrote, "this deferential analysis was indistinguishable from rational-basis review", yet the Supreme Court explicitly forbade rational-basis review in the Second Amendment context in its 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Thomas is especially angry because the Second Amendment involves rights enumerated in the Constitution, as opposed to what he considers contrived pseudo-rights like the right to an abortion and the right of same-sex marriage, both of which he mocked the Court for caring about more than guns in his dissent.

Gun rights advocates challenged California's law in court, claiming it is unconstitutional. Because it typically takes only a day or two for most such background checks to go through, they argued, the government has no legitimate reason to make "previous purchasers" wait the full 10 days.

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Gun control advocacy groups cheered Tuesday's snub of the waiting period case. The delay was initially meant to allow time for background checks, and while those now take far less time electronically, state officials say the waiting period also acts as a deterrent against suicides and other impulse shootings.

As a result, he said, lower courts are "failing to protect the Second Amendment to the same extent that they protect other constitutional rights". Silvester v. Harris, 843 F. 3d 816, 828 (CA9 2016).

"Because the right to keep and bear arms is enumerated in the Constitution, courts can not subject laws that burden it to mere rational-basis review".

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