Judges Reject Missouri’s Attempt to Overturn Federal Gun Laws for Now | ET REALITY

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The Supreme Court rejected on friday reinstated an expansive Missouri law that restricted state and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun laws and allowed private lawsuits against law enforcement agencies that violated the state’s understanding of the Second Amendment.

The court’s brief order gave no reasons, which is typical when judges act on emergency requests asking them to intervene at an early stage of litigation. There will be an appeal of a judge’s ruling striking down the law, and the case could go back to the Supreme Court once that appeal is decided.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented and gave no explanation.

Missouri law, Second Amendment Preservation Act, was enacted in 2021 and had several unusual provisions. One declared that various types of federal laws – including those requiring gun registration and requiring gun dealers to keep records – were “infringements upon the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.”

A second provision prohibited the state from hiring former federal employees who had enforced those laws or provided “material aid and support” to efforts to enforce them.

One-third allowed citizens to sue local law enforcement agencies for $50,000 for each incident in which they could prove their right to bear arms had been violated. That last mechanism appeared to have been inspired by a novel Texas abortion law that offered rewards in lawsuits against abortion providers.

In a brief statement Friday, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, joined by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., wrote that he agreed with the court’s ruling “under the current circumstances.” But he added that the court had no power to block aspects of Missouri’s law that resembled Texas’s.

Judge Brian C. Wimes of the Federal District Court in Kansas City ruled in March that the Missouri law was “an impermissible nullification attempt” contrary to the Constitution’s supremacy clause, which generally prohibits states from enacting measures contrary to federal law.

“While intended to protect citizens,” Judge Wimes wrote, Missouri’s law “exposes citizens to greater harm by interfering with the federal government’s ability to enforce lawfully enacted firearms regulations designed by Congress in order to protect citizens within the limits of the Constitution. “

Judge Wimes, appointed by President Barack Obama, expressed concern that some state and local police departments had withdrawn from joint federal task forces under the law and refused to use managed gun databases. by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. and Explosives.

The judge stayed his own ruling until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis decided whether to extend it. The appeals court lifted the stay last month, allowing Judge Wimes’ decision to take effect. State officials then asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

His emergency request said the legislature was free to adopt its own interpretation of the Second Amendment.

“If the United States can sue any state or state official who expresses a controversial view of the Constitution, then law professors, state attorneys, and all government officials have cause for serious concern,” the petition said. “Every legislator has the duty to comply with the Constitution, which necessarily requires interpreting it.”

Biden administration lawyers responded that state law It was “clearly unconstitutional.”

“The Missouri Legislature is free to express its views on the Second Amendment, and it is also free to prohibit state and local officials from assisting in the enforcement of federal law,” said Attorney General Elizabeth B. Prelogar. “But he is not free to seek to annul federal statutes; order state officials and courts to treat those statutes as invalid and protect them from enforcement; or to regulate and discriminate against federal officials who enforce those statutes.”

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