Anticipation is building around Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that he will model a gun control measure in California after Texas’ abortion ban. Constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley, however, says the plan won’t work.
“If the law is crafted as Newsom suggests, this won’t work legally. Nevertheless, there will be much cooing on cable programs at the cleverness of Newsom and the comeuppance for conservatives. Newsom will seize the moment in terms of popularity while leaving the costs to others to bear in the later failed litigation,” Turley wrote in a post on his blog Sunday morning.
A Supreme Court decision Friday left Texas’ six-week abortion ban in place, but said abortion providers have the right to challenge the law in federal court. The Texas law allows private citizens to enforce the ban by allowing them to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
GAVIN NEWSOM SAYS HE’LL USE TEXAS ABORTION LAW AS MODEL FOR GUN-CONTROL MEASURE
The decision left Newsom “outraged,” and he announced that he will fashion a gun control measure after Texas’ abortion law.
“I am outraged by yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Texas’s ban on most abortion services to remain in place,” Newsom wrote in a statement Saturday evening. “But if states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way.”
Newsom said his office will work with the state legislature and attorney general to pass a law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in California
“If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that,” he wrote.
HARRIS SAYS RIGHT TO ABORTION ‘NONNEGOTIABLE’ AS SCOTUS ALLOWS STRICT TEXAS LAW TO CONTINUE
Turley says that the move “will be hugely successful politically, but not without costs to the state and potential litigants.”
“Gov. Newsom denounced the Supreme Court in Women’s Health v. Jackson for refusing to enjoin the Texas law that allows people to sue anyone who ‘aids or abets’ one performed after about six weeks. That led to widespread calls for the passage of legislation to ‘codify Roe,’ including from the White House,” Turley writes. “Newsom, however, wants to replicate the law to limit Second Amendment rights the way that conservatives used it to limit reproductive rights.”
TEXAS ABORTION LAW STANDS: SUPREME COURT
He points out three main issues with Newsom’s plan. Turley says the Texas law was found to be unconstitutional, “as would the California law,” and the Supreme Court allowed “pre-enforcement challenges so the California law could be challenged to avoid any ‘chilling effect’ on gun rights.”
Most importantly, according to Turley, is that Newsom restricted the law to gun manufacturers, distributors, and sellers, not a wider body of people.
“The Texas law was so menacing because it exposed such a wide array of people to potential lawsuit. It would not be quite as popular to go after gun owners or gun rights groups. Yet, Newsom is targeting business which are going to be less intimidated by such litigation costs in a law that would be clearly unconstitutional,” Turley writes.
The constitutional scholar also took issue with Newsom’s declaration, “If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that.” Turley argues that this statement acknowledges the law is meant to reduce gun control through an indirect channel that the state was previously unable to pass via a direct path.
“That is precisely why the Supreme Court just green-lighted pre-enforcement challenges to the Texas law and now, with the help of Newsom, the California law would collapse quickly on the same grounds.”
“With his bravado, Newsom has guaranteed that courts will strike down his law as an open ‘mockery’ of gun rights precedent and he will actually box in liberal judges and jurists in voting against the California law on the same grounds,” Turley adds.
Turley wraps up his post by saying that the “California law is certain to play better on cable than in the courts.” Just a day later, that’s already playing out.
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Liberals are celebrating Newsom’s announcement as “impressively and appropriately dramatic.”