The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that is expected to make it easier for Americans to carry concealed weapons in public was punctuated by the majority opinion written by none other than Clarence Thomas.
The controversial associate justice led his five fellow conservative-leaning Supreme Court judges in the decisive ruling on the Second Amendment that overturns a key New York law amid a national gun violence crisis replete with a record number of mass shootings.
The Supreme Court rendered its judgment after hearing New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which “required anyone who wants to carry a concealed handgun outside the home to show ‘proper cause’ for the license,” according to SCOTUS Blog.
Thomas, in his opinion, cited “historical tradition” to justify the ruling that he said will protect “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”
Thomas wrote in his opinion about the New York law: “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. It is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
Justice Samuel Alito filed a concurring opinion with Thomas’. Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed a concurring opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Amy Coney Barrett also filed a concurring opinion. Justice Stephen Breyer — whose upcoming retirement makes way for newly confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to join the Court later this year — wrote a dissenting opinion that was joined by the like-minded liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Breyer suggested the decision was incomplete.
“What about subways, nightclubs, movie theaters and sports stadiums?” Justice Breyer asked in his written dissent. “The court does not say.”
The New York Times reported that the ruling was expected to make it harder for other states to restrict guns.
The Supreme Court ruling comes weeks after New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed a so-called “gun violence czar” to address the spike in gun crimes in the state’s largest city.
“This is the civil rights battle of our lifetime, dealing with how guns are destroying not only individuals, but is destroying the anatomy of our cities and our communities,” Adams said while announcing the personnel decision earlier this month.
Adams, a career police officer before going into politics, said he has “never witnessed crime at this level” in New York City before.
It was in that content that Thomas wrote Thursday’s majority decision, which was promptly condemned by civil rights leaders.
“The Supreme Court decision on carrying a gun in New York is devastating and potentially dangerous,” National Action Network Founder and President Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement emailed to NewsOne on Thursday. “This ruling could not have come at a worse time, as we have been working to de-escalate gun violence in the city. It has never been more important for Congress to pass meaningful legislation to combat the epidemic that is gun violence in this nation.”
Thomas wrote his majority decision amid an outcry from Democrats for the second-ever Black Supreme Court judge to recuse himself from all cases related to the 2020 election. An increasing number of reports have presented evidence that Thomas’ wife, conservative activist Ginni Thomas, played an outsized role in trying to overturn the election in an effort to keep then-President Donald Trump in office.
There is also a movement demanding the impeachment of Thomas. As of Thursday, an online petition started by political group MoveOn had garnered more than 240,000 signatures.
“He must resign—or Congress must immediately investigate and impeach,” the petition says of Thomas, noting how the judge’s wife “was actively urging the White House to overturn election results both leading up to January 6 and after the deadly insurrection.”
Justice Thomas also looms large amid heightened expectations that the Supreme Court will overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion illegal. A draft of the Supreme Court’s decision was leaked to the public last month. Thomas is notably anti-abortion.
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