Friday, October 07, 2022

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Bump Stock Cases

On October 3, 2022, it was revealed the Supreme Court refused to review two cases challenging the rule implementing a bump stock ban put in place by the ATF, at the request of President Donald Trump.

The two cases which had been appealed to the Supreme Court were distributed for conference where decisions are made to hear the case (grant a writ of certiorari) or not, on September 12. Both had been rescheduled earlier in the year. Both cases were denied as of October 3, 2022.

The appeals process for the bump stock ban has ended.

The two cases were:

Aposhian v. Garland  and Gun Owners of America v. Garland.

The Aposhian case was in the Tenth Circuit.  The GOA case was in the Sixth Circuit.

Both cases had gone through three judge panels at the appeals courts. The Aposhian case had lost at both. The GOA case won at the three judge panel, but was tied at the en banc panel. The GOA case then reverted to the District court decision, where the ATF had prevailed.

Both cases challenged the power of the ATF to unilaterally change federal law about the definition of what is a machinegun. Another part of the challenge was whether an agency could refuse to rely on the Chevron decision. The Chevron decision involved a case about whether the courts should defer to the administrative "expertise" of an agency to make decisions independent of Congressional votes.

The ATF claimed they were simply interpreting the law, as the statute allowed them to do.  That interpretation means an agency can reverse long standing precedent of law, simply because an executive asks them to do so, or they decide to do so.

This destroys the idea of the rule of law. How can a citzen, or anyone who is subject to American law, know whether their property will be safe, when an agency can reverse a previously longstanding rule, and declare their property contraband without any congressional vote?

How can this be considered a representative republic?

The Supreme Court refusing to hear a case does not mean the court endorses the existing law. It means they refused to hear the case, or perhaps more specifically, it means less than four Supreme Court justices voted to hear the case.


As someone following these cases, it appeared there was a good chance the Supreme Court would hear them.

A good chance is not a certainty. The Supreme Court has now, officially, refused to hear them. There is no more appeal.

It is a bit hard to take, after a tie at the en banc hearing for the Sixth circuit. If GOA had won that vote, it would be a clear and obvious circuit split, and the court would have been much more likely to take the case.

There are many more Second Amendment related cases are coming up in the near future.  Some of those will involve the "final rule" of the ATF. Most of them will be citing the Bruen decision. The bump stock cases did not cite Bruen, as I recall. They were about regulatory overreach on the part of the ATF and the Trump administration.


©2022 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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