Thursday, January 14, 2010

Astonishing Ruling From Federal Judge Irma Gonzalez

Astonishing Ruling From Federal Judge Irma Gonzalez

Don't get too excited quite yet. The case is Peruta v. San Diego. Peruta is challenging the refusal of the San Diego Sheriff to issue a concealed carry permit. Judge Gonzalez hasn't ruled on that argument yet--but she has rejected Sheriff Gore's initial claims, acknowledging that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, and apparently that because California prohibits open carry, there are limits to the authority of the state to regulate concealed carry. And she even cites such amazing cases as Nunn v. Georgia (1846) in defense of that argument.

More importantly, she acknowledges that this isn't a rational basis question--there's at least intermediate scrutiny as a standard of review involved:
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment provides that no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, which is “essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.” City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Ctr., 473 U.S. 432, 439 (1985) (citation omitted). “The general rule is that legislation is presumed to be valid and will be sustained if the classification drawn by the statute is rationally related to a legitimate state interest.” Id. at 440 (citations omitted). This general rule gives way, however, where a statute classifies by race, alienage, or national origin, or impinges on personal rights protected by the Constitution. Id. When that is the case, the challenged law is subjected to strict scrutiny and will be upheld only if it is “suitable tailored to serve a compelling state interest.” Id.
This has long been the problem with discretionary concealed weapon permit laws, such as California's--all that discretion inevitably leads to equal protection violations, because sheriffs and police chiefs don't even make a serious attempt at equal protection of the law on permit issuance. (Especially in the counties where big contributions to the sheriff's campaign has an astonishing overlap with permit issuance.)

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: "This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. But it is assuredly the end of the beginning."

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