When the Supreme Court was considering a Texas law that allows lawsuits against abortion providers, the California-based Firearms Policy Coalition filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting abortion providers in their challenge to the law. “The approach used by Texas to avoid pre-enforcement review of its restriction on abortion and its delegation of enforcement to private litigants could just as easily be used by other States to restrict First and Second Amendment rights or, indeed, virtually any settled or debated constitutional right,” the FPC argued.
The high court voted narrowly to refuse to block the law from going into effect while state challenges moved forward. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote that the court “clears the way for States to reprise and perfect Texas’ scheme in the future to target the exercise of any right recognized by this Court with which they disagree.”
Days later, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California would do exactly that — write a law that targets guns the way the Texas law targets abortion providers.
It’s now the law in Texas that citizens may sue an abortion clinic and any person who helps a woman get an abortion — even the ride-share driver who transports a woman to a clinic. Citizens may seek damages of up to $10,000, plus attorney fees, from the clinic, the driver, the doctors and the staff.
The law was drafted specifically to avoid review by federal courts. While the courts have clear power to order a government official not to enforce a law, it’s not so clear that the federal courts have any power to stop a private individual from filing a civil lawsuit. Meanwhile, the effect of the law is to create a potential financial burden so severe that abortion clinics shut down rather than risk it.
Newsom said he will work with the Legislature and the state attorney general to craft a law that allows private citizens to seek damages of up $10,000, plus attorney fees, from any manufacturer, seller or distributor of certain firearms such as “ghost guns” and guns classified as “assault weapons.” The governor seems to be anticipating that the U.S. Supreme Court may strike down some of California’s gun laws as unconstitutional infringements of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Under Newsom’s proposal, if that happens, citizens would be able to sue gun manufacturers in state court, potentially harassing them out of business in California.
While no one doubts the ability of the state of California to harass a company out of business, many legal experts doubt that Newsom’s proposed law would work as he intends. Even the author of the Texas abortion law, state Sen. Bryan Hughes, said he didn’t think the citizen-enforcement mechanism would be “effective against firmly established constitutional rights.”
That ruling is sure to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, giving Newsom months or years to indulge the pretense that Californians are somehow not entitled to the protection of the entire U.S. Constitution.
©2021 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit ocregister.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.