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Leading Trump SCOTUS Contender Strikes Down Chicago Gun Laws

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent

Judge Diane Sykes of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a frontrunner for President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointment to the Supreme Court, wrote a decision striking down a Chicago gun law.

The decision found several city ordinances governing shooting ranges unconstitutional, according to the official opinion released Wednesday. Among other regulations, the city banned individuals under 18 from commercial ranges, and restricted their operation to manufacturing districts.

Sykes wrote the opinion striking down the regulatory regime. It was joined in full by Judge Michael Kanne, a Ronald Reagan appointee, and in part by Judge Ilana Rovner, a George H. W. Bush appointee. It reads in part:

Under the combined effect of these two regulations, only 2.2% of the city’s total acreage is even theoretically available, and the commercial viability of any of these parcels is questionable—so much so that no shooting range yet exists. This severely limits Chicagoans’ Second Amendment right to maintain proficiency in firearm use via target practice at a range. To justify these barriers, the City raised only speculative claims of harm to public health and safety. That’s not nearly enough to survive the heightened scrutiny that applies to burdens on Second Amendment rights.

Chicago’s aggressive gun laws have repeatedly dealt setbacks to pro-gun control activists. Second Amendment activists challenged a Chicago ordinance which effectively banned the lawful possession of handguns in the city. Their challenge culminated in a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, which found that Second Amendment protections are applicable against state governments — a ruling that is arguably the largest legal setback for pro-gun control activists in recent memory. (RELATED: Here Are The Favorites For Trump’s Supreme Court Nomination)

Sykes’ ruling further reinforces her reputation as one of the most conservative jurists currently serving in the federal courts. She previously authored an opinion barring enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s birth-control mandate, and another opinion restoring student organization status to a chapter of the Christian Legal Society at Southern Illinois University School of Law. In the latter case, school officials had revoked the Society’s credentials because they do not admit homosexuals.

Trump indicated he will announce his first Supreme Court nominee during the second week of his presidency. Sykes is considered a leading contender for the appointment, along with Judge William Pryor of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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