Rebuffing Gun Control advocates – The Supreme Court of the United States has made a unanimous ruling regarding 4th Amendment Warrantless Seizures of Firearms with tie in to the Second Amendment
Caniglia v. Strom Supreme Court file #20-257 had an issued ruling May 17, 2021 in favor of upholding Second Amendment Sentiment, with regards to home searches under the 4th Amendment
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the issue of Warrantless Seizures of Firearms today. The case is a 4th Amendment docket item.
While the content of the case is not overtly a Second Amendment issue, it has major crossover, especially given the upcoming look at multiple gun-rights cases and the constitutionality of the previous rulings. The fact that the ruling from the court was unanimous should not necessarily be surprising, but the potential it sets up for the upcoming Second Amendment-centric cases cannot be overemphasized.
The court, while leaning right if you believe in activist judges, is far from a court that embraces firearms. There is a strong sentiment that could go either way depending on the issue. Chief Justice John Roberts hasn’t voted conservatively for years on most controversial issues, and there are some reasons to believe that the court of public opinion can have more of an impact on the court’s decision making that it ever should. Given all that, the court seems to be a lock on more favorable actions towards future 2nd Amendment rulings.
Does an Opinion or lack of Opinion mean something here?
This information doesn’t mean there won’t be a dissenting opinion, but in the plethora of issued Concurring Opinions on this 4th Amendment case, there was a distinct lack of language that would set the stage for a dismissal on the Right to Carry case. Ordinarily, you would expect to see at least Justice Breyer or Justice Roberts mention something in their commentary that shows their hand ahead of the future ruling. There was nothing of note regarding the 2nd Amendment.
Notably, both Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Alito filed separate opinions – neither ceded anything that seems like there is a hint at ruling non-conservatively on the upcoming case. Perhaps even more notably, Justice Barrett was silent on the matter – possibly avoiding waves before the other decision comes forward.
Justice Clarence Thomas was also notably silent on the issue (even though he penned the Court’s opinion) – something he does well in person (he speaks very little), but also something that seems a bit unusual *(he is almost always vocal on gun rights, even in passing opinions).
The 4th Amendment aspect in this case (Caniglia v. Strom) seems pretty cut and dry, regardless of the Cady v. Dombrowski precedent – No Warrantless Seizures of Firearms
In an era where political discussion actually includes controversial red flag laws, and when the new Presidential Administration (Biden) has made it clear they want to aggressively push more gun control legislation – the Court, still flush with left leaning opinions, said this case is an obvious one. If Law Enforcement doesn’t have a search warrant, they cannot be confiscating firearms.
Warrantless Seizures of Firearms – not a Law Enforcement duty of care issue
The Court’s Opinion stated: “The question today is whether Cady’s (referencing a circuit court decision) acknowledgement of these ‘caretaking’ duties creates a standalone doctrine that justifies warrantless searches and seizures in the home,” “It does not.” – Justice Thomas
What’s the point? Even though the Court Acknowledges that law Enforcement may elect to discharge a duty of care to prevent future harm (say, when thinking someone may be suicidal or pose a threat to the public), the 4th Amendment is clear – warrantless searches and seizures are not trumped by a one-off decision by a law enforcement officer in those conditions where a warrant does not exist.
While many could probably justify some situations where such duty of care might make sense, the Court is making clear – those situations should not be construed as opportunities to trump a Constitutional Amendment.
What does this mean for the Second Amendment Cases upcoming?
The decision seems to point to obvious decisions going forward at least for the short term future. However, the decision may also embolden the Democrat controlled Senate bodies and President to push for a larger court body, skewing the court further left than the slight right leaning court composition today.
It could also mean very little that there was such a dramatic silence on the concurring opinions regarding the Second Amendment – after all, this is a 4th Amendment case that just happens to involve guns – there is very little political or legislative carryover other than that guns are involved. If nothing else – it may signal that the Court will begin to wear their political views under their sleeves going forward instead of on them.