With just 14 days left in office, the Obama administration has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a significant Second Amendment case that could maintain restrictions on firearms.
The solicitor general, who represents the U.S. government before the high court, filed a petition asking the justices to review a decision from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Second Amendment rights may be restored to certain individuals who have completed their jail sentences. Federal law currently prohibits many classes of former convicts from possessing firearms.
The two respondents in the case, Daniel Binderup and Julio Suarez, were convicted of misdemeanors in Pennsylvania. Though they persuaded the Pennsylvania courts to remove a state law that disqualified them for possessing firearms in 2009, federal law continues to deprive them of Second Amendment protections. Binderup and Suarez are effected by the federal prohibition because their misdemeanor convictions are punishable by more than two years in prison — a qualifying offense under the federal law. Neither served lengthy prison terms.
The pair are represented by Alan Gura, who successfully argued two landmark Second Amendment cases before the high court. (RELATED: 9th Circuit Overturns Gun Rights Victory)
It is somewhat unusual that the solicitor general would ask the high court to take up a merits case this late in an administration. However, the judges of 3rd Circuit divided over a number of questions in their ruling, and the case involves exceptions to a categorical rule. Both factors make the justices more likely to take the case. All things considered, the case is a strong contender for Supreme Court review.
The petition can be withdrawn when President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20. The Trump transition has not announced who will serve as solicitor general in the new administration. Reports indicate that Trump and Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions are seriously considering George Conway III for the post. Conway is the husband of Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway and currently practices at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz in New York.
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