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Supreme Court Strikes Down New York Concealed Carry Restrictions

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that required New Yorkers who want to carry concealed firearms to show a special need to defend themselves.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of gun rights in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, saying that the New York law violated Americans’ Second and 14th Amendment rights.

“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the majority opinion.

“New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,” he added.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul reacted to the ruling on Twitter, saying, “It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons.”

“In response to this ruling, we are closely reviewing our options – including calling a special session of the legislature,” she added. “Just as we swiftly passed nation-leading gun reform legislation, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence.”

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SCOTUS Rules Against EPA In Climate Change Case

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in West Virginia v. The Environmental Protection Agency that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants because it was not specifically granted that power by Congress.

“The Supreme Court sharply curtails the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change,” SCOTUSblog tweeted. “In a 6-3 ruling, the court sides with conservative states and fossil-fuel companies in adopting a narrow reading of the Clean Air Act.”

The Supreme Court ruled that “Congress did not grant the Environmental Protection Agency in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act the authority to devise emissions caps based on the generation shifting approach the agency took in the Clean Power Plan,” SCOTUSblog explained, adding that the “dispute began in 2015 with the Obama administration’s adoption of the Clean Power Plan, a rule that sought to combat climate change by reducing carbon pollution from power plants. The plan never went into effect, however: Several states and private plaintiffs challenged it in federal court, and a divided Supreme Court put it on hold in February 2016.”

The former Trump administration’s EPA repealed the Clean Power Plan in 2019 and replaced it with the more lenient Affordable Clean Energy Rule (ACE Rule).

In January 2021, “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, vacated the ACE Rule, and sent the issue back to the EPA for more proceedings. The Supreme Court then granted a request by Republican-led states and coal companies to review that ruling; meanwhile, the Biden administration EPA has indicated that it will not reinstate the Clean Power Plan and is instead drafting its own rules on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants,” SCOTUSblog wrote.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority decision for the Court and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch. The three leftist judges dissented.

“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day,” Roberts wrote. “But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme in Section 111(d). A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is reversed, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”

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Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of High School Football Coach Punished For Praying After Games

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On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District that a public high school football coach in Washington state had his First Amendment rights violated after he was placed on administrative leave and banned from participating in the football program for praying on the field after games where students could see.

“SCOTUS sides with a high school football coach in a First Amendment case about prayer at the 50-yard-line,” SCOTUSblog wrote on Twitter. “In a 6-3 ruling, SCOTUS says the public school district violated the coach’s free speech and free exercise rights when it barred him from praying on the field after games.”

Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch explained, “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic—whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head.”

“Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment,” Gorsuch added. “And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination. Mr. Kennedy is entitled to summary judgment on his First Amendment claims.”

In 2008, high school football coach Joseph Kennedy began a tradition of praying at midfield after each game. Over time, his players and even members of the opposing team began to join him. In September 2015, a school administrator addressed the matter with Kennedy after an opposing team complained and the coach briefly stopped his prayers.

On October 14, 2015, Kennedy told the school district that he was planning on resuming his prayer tradition at the next game. The school district told the coach that his prayers violated the district’s policy, but Kennedy continued to pray at the next two games. The school district subsequently placed him on administrative leave, banned him from participating in the football program, and refused to renew his contract for the following season. Kennedy took the issue to federal district court, arguing that the school district had violated his First Amendment rights.

“Kennedy’s private religious exercise did not come close to crossing any line one might imagine separating protected private expression from impermissible government coercion,” Gorsuch wrote. “Learning how to tolerate speech or prayer of all kinds is part of learning how to live in a pluralistic society, a trait of character essential to a tolerant citizenry.”

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