Justice Clarence Thomas dissents in Missouri gun case

 October 21, 2023

This week saw Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas break with his colleagues in a case regarding gun rights in Missouri. 

In 2021, a law was signed by Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson known as the "Second Amendment Preservation Act."

Bill allows state and local police to be sued for helping to enforce federal gun laws

The legislation prohibits any state or local law enforcement officer from assisting with the enforcement of federal gun laws that Missouri deems to be unconstitutional.

Under its provisions, any person or entity that violates the law is liable to be sued for up to $50,000 in monetary damages.

The Hill reported in March that the Biden administration challenged the law on constitutional grounds, a position which U.S. District Judge Judge Brian Wimes agreed with.

In his ruling, Wimes pointed to the Supremacy Clause found in Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which holds that federal law trumps state rules when the two conflict.

Two justices argued that law can still be enforced by private parties

However, the law remained in effect until September when the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to issue a stay of Wimes' ruling while the case was being litigated.

According to The Hill, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey took the case to the Supreme Court seeking emergency relief but was rebuffed this week.

All of the Court's justices voted to leave the Second Amendment Preservation Act save Thomas, who publicly voiced dissent.

Still, conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito did argue that private parties are still permitted to enforce the law.

Biden administration accuses state of trying to "nullify federal statutes"

"With the understanding that the district court 'prohibited' only 'implementation and enforcement' of H. B. 85 by the State of 'Missouri and its officers, agents, and employees' and 'any others in active concert with such individuals,'…I agree with the denial of the application for a stay under the present circumstances," Gorsuch wrote.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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