A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Guns A-Blazin’


We’ve updated our Ask FactCheck item on Sonia Sotomayor and gun rights yet again. This time it’s to reflect the fact that the National Rifle Association has filed a cert petition asking the Supreme Court to hear its case challenging Chicago’s gun laws (which it lost this week in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals). The NRA asks the court specifically to decide the question of whether or not the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments. Actually, the Supreme Court decided that question long ago — the precedents that are usually relied upon are from 1875, 1886 and 1894. In the 1894 case, for example, the court held that "it is well settled that the restrictions of [the second and fourth] amendments operate only upon the federal power, and have no reference whatever to proceedings in state courts." So if the justices accept the case, there could be a reversal of those decisions in the offing.

In addition, if the justices take the case and Sotomayor is confirmed, she will have to decide whether or not to take part in the high court’s decision on it. She didn’t sit on the 7th Circuit NRA case, but the opinion in that case referred to and agreed with an unsigned one in the 2nd Circuit that she and two other judges issued this year.