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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “Conservative Justices Are Political Hacks, Five Senators Argue While Urging SCOTUS to Drop a Second Amendment Case”. Below is an excerpt from the article.
This week, five Democratic senators filed a brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. City of New York, a challenge to that city's absurdly tight restrictions on the transportation of legally owned firearms. In part, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D–R.I.), Mazie Hirono (D–Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D–Conn.), Richard Durbin (D–Ill.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.) argue that the case, which could give the Supreme Court an opportunity to clarify the contours of the Second Amendment after nearly a decade of silence on the subject, has been rendered moot by New York City's recent revision of its regulations. But most of the 25-page brief is devoted to the argument that the Supreme Court has been corrupted by a shadowy right-wing financial network bent on changing policy through litigation. The brief concludes with a warning that if the Court continues to do the bidding of these donors—i.e., if it continues to make decisions that Whitehouse et al. do not like—it may have to be "restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics."
The senators imply that the justices should not trust the amicus briefs urging them to consider the constitutionality of New York's policy because the organizations behind them have financial motives for taking that position. "At least 8 amici purport to represent gun organizations which, like petitioner, are affiliates of the NRA," they say. "At least 6 amici report receiving funding from foundations and other often anonymously funded sources connected to [Federalist Society Executive Vice President] Leonard Leo's network that regularly fund ideological litigants and amici before this Court." While "at least 32 amici filing briefs in support of petitioners do not disclose their organizational donors," they say, "were there such transparency, this amicus army would likely be revealed as more akin to marionettes controlled by a puppetmaster than to a groundswell of support rallying to a cause."
These ad pecuniam arguments are, of course, logically empty, since they have nothing to do with the issues before the Court: whether the case is moot and, if not, whether New York's restrictions are constitutional. It is hardly surprising that the National Rifle Association or its affiliates would want the Court to hear a Second Amendment case. Nor is it surprising that other individuals and organizations that support the constitutional right to arms would agree, or that they might attract financial support from like-minded people. None of that has any bearing on the legal issues.
The idea that there is something sinister about trying to influence the law through strategic litigation, aided by financial support from people who support the cause, is hard to take seriously. Would these senators condemn the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, or their supporters on the same grounds? Would they say the money received by progressive organizations makes their legal arguments invalid?
The senators' broader point, however, is that legal arguments do not matter to the Court's conservative members, who rule the way they do not because they are applying the law in good faith but because they are beholden to the moneyed interests that helped install them:
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