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Supreme Court Rejects 2 Gun Rights Appeals

People line up in the fog at the the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington to attend arguments, early Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.
Associated Press
People line up in the fog at the the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington to attend arguments, early Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018.
Supreme Court Rejects 2 Gun Rights Appeals
Supreme Court Rejects 2 Gun Rights Appeals GUESTS:Glenn Smith, professor of constitutional law, California Western School of Law

Our top story midday edition the White House is conducting a listening session today as students affected by gun violence voice their concerns. The Florida shooting has revived the issue of gun regulation and political debate and street protests. One place not eager for new discussion on gun laws is the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices have refused to review a California law that requires a 10 day waiting period for new gun purchases. That provoked a rare rebuke from Clarence Thomas. Joining me is Glenn Smith , law professor at the California Western school of Law. Welcome to the program. >> Thank you. >> What restriction does this law put on people who want to purchase guns? >> It requires a 10 day waiting period for all firearms and all purchasers except for a couple of category of people who have been shown to know how to handle guns responsibly like peace officers. Strung across the board restriction which the second-longest in the nation. >> Why was it challenged by the foundation? >> It was challenged not as application to everyone, but challenged on behalf of subsequent users people that already had a gun in their possession and were in the database and who had already had a valid concealed license. It was a narrow group of people who argued that the 10 day waiting period was uniquely inappropriate for them. >> The ninth circuit upheld the law. Did they address the issue of what benefit attend a waiting period might give the public even the stop people who already have a legal weapon from getting another one? >> Yes, both the District Court invalidated the law and the ninth circuit upheld it got involved in the question of what California justification was for this. California claimed both that it allowed a cooling-off period and allowed time for background checks. The court disagreed was in discussing the extent to which California had made a strong showing and how strong the showing had to be. >> This is a question that was left hanging after the Supreme Court decided in 2008 that the Second Amendment gave the individual right to self-defense and 2010 decided that that applied to state and local governments as well. It's been very silent and declined to take a number of possible cases where it could of clarified something that was unclear in the previous opinions. >> This goes to the aspect of the story that's making headlines today and that is the dissent of justice Clarence Thomas. He wrote on the failure to take up the issue and accused the other justices of making the Second Amendment a constitutional orphan. What did he mean? >> Well , this is a criticism that he made at the end of last term as well. When another California case with the client -- was declined. He has pointed to statistics and sing in the eight years, we decided 35 free speech cases and 25 search and seizure reasonableness cases and he is accusing the court of handling this as a second right and handling that -- he accused the Ninth Circuit of defiance and said the court enabled this by declining to take cases and rebuke the ninth circuit for what justice Thomas sees as the inappropriate gun rights. >> How does it take to grant it? >> It takes nine justices. So just one justice fewer than the number of reverse cases below. >> As you mentioned, this is the latest of the Supreme Court has refused to review a gun regulation that a state or a municipality has enacted. Some court watchers say the justices want the issue of gun control regulation decided by lawmakers and legislators are not the court. Does that seem to be the case? >> That would be the motivation. It will be and a motivation that occurs. Interestingly at the court they've done a similar process in the abortion issue. Many of us thought that the court would need to and would decide a bunch of cases after that. They waited eight years before they took the first case. It's not unusual for the court to want to let the issue percolate in the lower court. Political officials are dealing with it as well. I think that it may be that they are looking for a case that is sort of not extreme on either side and consensus could develop around that might be what's going on as well. >> In the meantime, the waiting period that California voters enacted stays put? >> That is right. The court's failure to decide which can be as important in deciding the case results in the lower court ruling staying in place not because it is right, but because it is less work. >> I've been speaking with Glenn Smith, law professor . Thank you. >> You are very welcome.

The Supreme Court is rejecting two challenges by guns rights groups to California laws regulating firearms' sales.

The action Tuesday came less than a week after a gunman in Florida killed 17 people at a Florida high school.

The justices did not comment in leaving in place two rulings by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


In one case, the appeals court upheld California's $19 fee for sales and transfers of guns. In the other, the court said California could require people to wait 10 days to buy a gun, even if they already owned one and their background check was completed sooner.

Justice Clarence Thomas issued a 14-page dissent in the background check case.