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Voting by Mail Facing Praise, Criticism

With voting in person deemed a risky activity during the coronavirus epidemic, states are turning to mail-in ballots as a way to conduct their elections. This has garnered praise from many people, who see it as a safer way to vote. But it has also raised the ire of many, including President Trump, who argue mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud.

 

Currently, five states conduct all their elections by mail: Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Utah. In these states, all registered voted receive a ballot and must mail them back by Election Day. There is also limited in-person voting locations where voters can visit during early voting or can drop off their ballots on Election Day.

 

The coronavirus epidemic has caused other states to temporarily embrace all-mail elections this year. Many of these states are treating this as a temporary matter. While shutdown orders were in effect, state officials concluded it would not be safe to open polling places. Instead, they put in place procedures to allow registered voters to request absentee ballots.

 

In addition, states such as Massachusetts are passing laws that will make it easier to vote by mail in future elections. These new laws would not move to election conducted completely by mail, but would expand the instances where people could request absentee ballots.

 

Some voting rights activists support these moves, saying that it should be easier for people to vote in any manner they want, including through the mail. They say this will help boost political participation among those who have difficulty making it to the polls. But President Trump, among others, have criticized mail-in voting, saying that it opens up large opportunities for fraud. The president says voting-by-mail is a plan by Democrats to help their party win elections.

 

Do you think it should be easier to vote by mail?

Trump Plans Withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty

President Trump has made no secret that he’s skeptical of many treaties signed by previous presidents. This week he announced that the U.S. would withdraw from one of the arms control treaty that he thinks is ineffective.

 

The treaty in question is the Open Skies treaty, which has 35 signatories. It allows nations to conduct unarmed flights over the territories of other signatories to monitor military activities. The president cited Russian violations of the treaty, which he said make it ineffective.

 

Russia has restricted flyovers in certain areas of the nation, something which Defense Department officials have long criticized. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will give formal notice of the U.S. intent to withdraw from the treaty on Friday. That withdrawal takes place 6 months after notice is given. However, Secretary Pompeo said that if Russia comes into compliance, the U.S. could reconsider its withdrawal.

 

Some observers have long wanted the U.S. to withdraw from the treaty, saying it gives Russia too much information on U.S. critical infrastructure. They hailed the president’s move, saying it was overdue. Others criticized the withdrawal, arguing that it will only increase tensions with Russia.

 

Do you support withdrawing from the Open Skies treaty?

Some Fear Unemployment Benefits Keep People from Returning to Work

With millions of Americans losing work as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, some elected officials and experts are worried that expanded unemployment benefits are making the jobless problem worse.

 

As part of the coronavirus aid package, the federal government has increased unemployment benefits by $600 a month. This has led to a situation where some workers make more money with these benefits than they do at their jobs. As Congress considers whether to extend this higher payment, some are worried that doing so will hamper an economic recovery. After all, these critics of the program say, why would someone return to work if he or she can make more money being unemployed?

 

It is unclear how many people are deciding not to return to work as a result of the higher unemployment benefits. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin this week reminded people that they could lose their benefits if they refuse to go back to work if their company can re-hire them.

 

The increased unemployment benefits end this summer. Some Democrats in Congress want to extend this program through next year. Republicans argue that the government should not make it more attractive to remain without work than it is to go to work. They say that this will slow down an economic recovery and hurt business owners who need workers to return. Democrats counter that this program is desperately needed by people who are jobless through no fault of their own.


Democrats are pushing for quick passage of a new coronavirus aid bill that could include these extension of enhanced unemployment benefits. Republicans want a slower process.

 

Do you think that paying an extra $600 in unemployment benefits per week gives people an incentive not to return to work?

Progressives Push for Military Cuts to Pay for Coronavirus Aid

Members of the House Progressive Caucus want to cut military spending as a way to pay the big price tag for coronavirus aid.

 

The House Armed Services Committee is considering the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which provides authority for the nation’s military activities. This bill also sets the funding level for military spending, which is then funded through the appropriations process.

 

Last year, the Progressive Caucus wanted the act to authorize military spending at $644 billion a year. Instead, the House approved legislation that set the level at $738 billion. As the process begins this year, the caucus’s members have said they will not support legislation that does not contain a significant spending cut.

 

The members argue that with other needs taking priority, specifically the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, it is time for Congress to trim military spending. They say the nation cannot afford to keep spending billions of dollars on pricey weapons systems and other military projects that, in the views of these members of Congress, foster conflict around the globe.

 

This stance puts these Democratic House members at odds with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Many moderate Democrats do not support cutting military spending, and would likely oppose any efforts to concede to the Progressive Caucus’s demands. But without the votes of the more liberal House members, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to rely on Republican votes to pass the defense bill this year.

 

Do you think that military spending should be cut to help pay for the trillions of dollars spent dealing with the coronavirus?

Biden Vows to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

The Keystone XL Pipeline has been a controversial proposal for 10 years. President Trump has been very vocal about his approval for this trans-national pipeline, but this week his 2020 opponent, Joe Biden, said that he will stop the project.

 

The pipeline, which will link Canadian oil fields to the U.S. Gulf Coast, was first proposed in 2010. President Obama blocked the approval of the pipeline’s crossing of the U.S.-Canadian border, but President Trump reversed this decision. There have also been numerous court cases over the pipeline.

 

The company that owns the pipeline intends to complete it in 2023, once any legal disputes are resolved. But if Joe Biden is elected president, he said that he will revoke U.S. approval. This could lead to years more of court cases.

 

Supporters of the pipeline say it will provide affordable energy to the U.S., giving consumers a financial windfall. They also point to the jobs it will create both during its construction and operation. Opponents, however, say most of these jobs will be temporary. They also argue that the pipeline will only increase the U.S.’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels, and that the pipeline itself will disturb important natural habitats.

 

Do you support completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline?

House Taking up $3 Trillion Coronavirus Bill

The House of Representatives is on the verge of passing its fifth bill related to the coronavirus epidemic. Unlike the previous legislation, however, this bill's approval is set to come along partisan lines.

 

House Democratic leadership introduced the bill earlier this week. Republicans charged that they had little time to look over the details and pointed out they had no input in its writing. Among other things, the bill includes:

  • Nearly $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments
  • $200 billion to provide hazard pay for front-line workers
  • Another round of direct payments to households
  • $175 billion in housing aid$75 billion for more testing

 

Democrats say these things are necessary to provide aid to an economy that is suffering in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic. They argue that many states and local governments will face difficult choices to cut key services without federal aid. Republicans, however, say the bill is too expensive. They also note that it contains spending on items that have little to do with the current health crisis, such as tens of millions of dollars to the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Republicans also fault Democrats for putting provisions in the bill that would benefit organized labor.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he has no interest in bringing this bill up for consideration in the Senate. There will likely be another coronavirus aid bill, but for any bill to move through Congress and be signed by President Trump, it must be bipartisan.

 

Do you think the Senate should vote on the $3 trillion coronavirus aid bill?

Senate Falls 1 Vote Short of Curbing Government Internet Searches

This week, the Senate passed legislation that reauthorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after votes on three amendments aimed at enhancing privacy protections. One amendment, which would prevent warrantless surveillance of Internet usage, failed by only one vote.

 

On May 13, the Senate rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT). Here is how VoteSpotter described that amendment:

 

To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to end the power for government agents to access internet browser and search history without a warrant during foreign intelligence and terrorism investigations.

 

This bill failed by only one vote. It had 59 senators who supported it, and it needed 60 to overcome procedural hurdles. Four senators were absent during the vote: Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

 

The FISA process has drawn scrutiny from both conservatives and liberals who are concerned about what they say is a lack of checks on government power to conduct investigations. They argue that without more safeguards, the FBI has vast powers to investigate anyone it deems connected to foreign intelligence or foreign terrorism.

 

Part of this investigative authority includes demanding that internet companies turn over information about a target’s internet browsing history and search terms. Since this information is held by a third party, not an individual directly, courts have ruled that the government can obtain them without a warrant in some circumstances. The Wyden-Daines amendment would have prohibited this.

 

President Trump has expressed his anger over the FISA process many times in the past due to it being used to investigate his 2016 campaign.

 

Do you think that, in the course of a terrorism investigation, the FBI should be able to access someone’s internet browsing history without a warrant?

Supreme Court Takes up Faithless Electors Case

With the U.S. facing another spirited presidential election contest, the Supreme Court is considering whether states can punish “faithless electors.”

 

Under the U.S. system, voters do not vote directly for the person they want as president. Instead, they vote for electors who then cast votes for president. In every state, these electors are part of a slate that are pledged to candidates of each political party. However, some electors vote for different candidates than the ones they are pledged to vote for. Most states have laws that seek to punish these “faithless electors,” and these laws are at issue before the Supreme Court.

 

In 2016, there were more faithless electors than in any previous election, with ten electors in five states. Two more electors tried to vote for someone other than their pledged candidate, but were replaced.

 

The Supreme Court is hearing the case of three of these electors from Washington and one in Colorado. After they cast their votes for someone other than Hillary Clinton, who won their states’ popular vote, the Washington electors were fined and the Colorado elector was replaced. A federal appeals court ruled that the state could not punish them, while the Washington Supreme Court upheld their fines.

 

The question before the court is whether states have the power to control what electors do. States say they should be able to punish faithless electors to ensure that the voters’ will is respected. Others argue that the Founding Fathers set up a system where people choose electors who then are free to choose the best person for president, and states should not intrude upon this.

 

Do you think that states should be able to punish faithless electors?

Democrats Unveil Their Plan for More Coronavirus Aid

House Democratic leaders have introduced their version of the next phase of coronavirus relief. Its price tag is $3 trillion.

 

Among other things, this package contains:

  • Nearly $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments
  • $200 billion to provide hazard pay for front-line workers
  • Another round of direct payments to households
  • $175 billion in housing aid
  • $75 billion for more testing

 

Under this bill, a family could receive up to $6,000 directly from the federal government. The weekly $600 increase in unemployment benefits would last through January.  

 

Unlike other coronavirus bills, this one was not put together with input from Republicans. It represents a Democratic vision of what aid should contain, and is unlikely to garner much Republican support. The House leadership says these measures are necessary to help people sustain themselves in wake of the economic problems caused by the coronavirus epidemic. Republicans counter that this is a liberal wish-list that is far too expensive.

 

There are likely enough votes in the House of Representatives to pass this legislation. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he is not interested in moving quickly on another coronavirus aid bill. In addition, any future aid bill in that chamber will have to have support from both Republicans and Democrats to pass.

 

The House is expected to vote on this bill Friday. If enacted, this would be the fifth bill to provide federal aid to deal with the fallout from the coronavirus.

 

Do you support the $3 trillion coronavirus aid bill put forward by House Democrats?

Senate Considers FISA Surveillance Reauthorization

This week, senators are taking up legislation to reauthorize and change some of the procedures for the  Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.

 

The process for obtaining intelligence under FISA has been under scrutiny by allies of President Trump. The FBI used this process to obtain warrants to monitor members of the Trump campaign, and a recent report has illustrated numerous problems with that warrant.

 

HB 6172 reauthorizes the FISA court through 2023. Here is how VoteSpotter describes the bill:

 

To renew provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that permit the federal government to collect business records and other information during national security investigations without a warrant. The FISA law allows a federal judge to approve such collections without notifying the target or hearing opposing arguments. The bill would also to expand the circumstances that require FISA judges to hear from a government-appointed critic of such requests, and increasing the number of FISA courts.

 

The changes contained in this legislation do not go far enough for some senators, though. They argue that the process for the FISA courts tilts too heavily towards the government, and that abuses would still be too easy to commit. This bipartisan group plans on offering amendments that would limit the collection of Internet usage history as well as strengthen the role of outside experts to challenge requests for surveillance.

 

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 278-136 in March.

 

Do you think the federal government has too much power to conduct surveillance and collect information under the FISA process?

Senate Fails to Override Trump Veto on Iran Military Action

A majority of senators disapprove of U.S. military involvement in Iran, but they could not garner enough support to override a presidential veto of a resolution to end such action.

 

This week the Senate failed to override President Trump’s veto of Senate Joint Resolution 68. Although the vote was 49-44 in favor of a veto override, this type of vote requires two-thirds of the senators present to approve in order to pass.

 

The resolution states:

 

The United States Armed Forces have been introduced into hostilities, as defined by the War Powers Resolution, against Iran.

 

The question of whether United States forces should be engaged in hostilities against Iran should be answered following a full briefing to Congress and the American public of the issues at stake, a public debate in Congress, and a congressional vote as contemplated by the Constitution.

 

It then goes on to say:

 

Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces for hostilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran or any part of its government or military, unless explicitly authorized by a declaration of war or specific authorization for use of military force against Iran.

 

The Senate initially passed the resolution in February, with the House following in March. This action was prompted by President Trump’s drone strike, which killed a top Iranian general. Many members of Congress have said this action will likely lead to war with Iran. They point out that the Constitution requires that Congress declare war. President Trump pushed back, saying that what he did was allowed because he is commander-in-chief. He said that the drone strike saved American lives and stopped an imminent threat.

 

The War Powers Act, invoked by this resolution, requires that presidents consult with Congress before military actions and seek congressional approval for longer-term military deployments. Enacted in the 1970s in the wake of the Vietnam War, presidents have routinely claimed that the law is an unconstitutional violation of their powers as commander-in-chief.

 

President Trump vetoed SJ Res 68 on May 6.

 

Do you think that U.S. military actions against Iran should be ended?

Michigan Legislature Suing over Governor’s Lockdown Order

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan’s Democratic governor, has put in place some of the strictest lockdown restrictions in the nation as a response to the coronavirus. She has faced stiff criticism for these actions, and now is looking at a lawsuit from the Republican-controlled legislature.

 

At the onset of the coronavirus epidemic, Gov. Whitmer imposed a state of emergency that prohibited many actions across the state. These included a ban on private and public gatherings, the sale of “non-essential” items in stores, and a prohibition on travel between residences. Many governors have issued lockdown orders, but Gov. Whitmer’s restrictions went beyond what other governors had done.

 

From the beginning, state residents criticized the stay-at-home order for being inconsistent and unnecessarily strict. Some sheriffs refused to enforce it, and the governor eventually rolled back some of these restrictions. Last week, however, she extended the state of emergency, leaving many of these bans in place.

 

Legislators are arguing that state law prohibits the governor from extending a state of emergency beyond 28 days without legislative approval. Legal analysts say state law is murky on this point, but there is language in a 1976 statute that supports legislators’ views.

 

The governor contends that her actions are necessary to protect the public from the spread of coronavirus. Her critics argue that she is hurting workers and business owners by restrictions that are not necessary to slow the spread of coronavirus.

 

If this lawsuit is successful, the governor will be forced to work with legislatures on what a future stay-at-home order looks like.

 

Do you think that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer overstepped her authority by unilaterally re-imposing her lockdown restrictions?

Trump Still Pushing for Payroll Tax Cut

Congress has passed four bills dealing with the coronavirus epidemic, and is now working on a fifth. President Trump wants that bill to include a payroll tax cut.

 

This is not the first time that the president has suggested such a tax cut. When the initial economic effects of the coronavirus began to become apparent in March, he suggested the same thing. Congress has been reluctant to enact it, however.

 

Payroll taxes are levied on income to pay for Medicare and Social Security. Cutting these taxes would affect every worker, especially those with lower incomes. An income tax cut mainly benefits higher-income workers, since lower incomes are not subject to the tax. Payroll taxes, on the other hand, are levied on the first dollar of income, and are capped for higher-income workers.

 

Since 2009, there have been other payroll tax cuts that have been aimed at stimulating the economy. Some economists argue that since they affect lower-income workers, they provide money to go back into the economy more quickly.

 

The president’s support for such a tax cut is not shared by many in Congress. Democratic members argue that such a tax cut would not provide relief to those who lost jobs or who are in the gig economy. Republicans are worried about its price tag (which could reach as high as $1 trillion a year) and its effect on the Social Security Trust Fund.

 

It remains to be seen what type of tax relief, if any, members of Congress will support in their latest coronavirus relief bill.

 

Do you support cutting payroll taxes as a way to stimulate the economy?

High Court Considers Birth Control Mandate

The legal fight over the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate continues at the Supreme Court today.

 

When enacted, the ACA included a mandate that insurance companies offer no-cost birth control. Some employers objected to this mandate, arguing that they had religious objections to some forms of birth control. They said that they should not have to pay for insurance that then provides a service they find morally objectionable.

 

There were various legal cases filed about this mandate, culminating in a 2014 Supreme Court decision affirming that some companies did not have to provide such insurance. In 2017, the Trump Administration went further, expanding this exception to include more companies. This administrative change is what is at issue in today’s Supreme Court arguments.

 

Pennsylvania is suing the Trump Administration, alleging that it exceeded its authority in granting more businesses an exception to the law. The state also alleges that the administration did not follow federal law in promulgating the rule.

 

At the heart of the argument is the idea, embodied in the ACA, that birth control should be widely available to individuals at no cost. Supporters say this is a good way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and it an essential part of women’s health care. Opponents to this idea have a variety of arguments. Some people point to their religious objection to providing birth control to others, especially types of birth control that they see as being no different than abortion. Others argue that if people want to use birth control, they should pay for it themselves, especially since it is widely available and not very expensive.

 

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments and ask questions remotely over video conference.

 

Do you think that the government should mandate that businesses provide no-cost birth control to their employees through insurance?

Supreme Court Hearing Broadcast for First Time

The coronavirus has changed many things about the way Americans are living their daily lives. Those changes have also affected the Supreme Court. Today, the high court heard arguments remotely, allowing media outlets to broadcast their hearing for the first time in history.

 

The case involved a patent dispute that will not be one of the major cases the justices decide this term. But with each justice working in a separate location via a video conference, this case will make history. If one wanted to watch the arguments made by lawyers and the questions asked by justices, usually it is necessary to obtain a ticket to appear in the Supreme Court chambers. Today, these arguments and questions were broadcast on a variety of news channels.

 

The Supreme Court members have long resisted calls to place cameras in their courtroom. They argue that it will lead to justices playing to the cameras instead of focusing on legal arguments, and that their arguments will be taken out of context. With the changes necessitated by the coronavirus, however, the justices were forced to alter their procedures.

 

There has long been a push to televise the proceedings of the high court. At least during the time when the coronavirus restrictions are in place, it looks like such broadcasts will be available. However, once the court returns to its normal practices, these are likely to end.

 

Do you think that the Supreme Court’s arguments should be televised?

Some States Begin Easing Lockdowns

Across the nation, governors are issuing orders that roll back some of the restrictions put in place to reduce the coronavirus infection rate.

 

With people agitating to return to work, governors in 14 states are allowing some businesses to re-open today. The details differ in each state, but all of them are ending some of the social distancing restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

 

These governors and their supporters say that it is time to stop the economic damage caused by stay-at-home orders. They argue that if people feel comfortable returning to work, then they should be allowed to do so in certain instances. Many states are requiring individuals to continue practicing some sort of safety measures, such as wearing masks or maintaining a distance from others.

 

Some are criticizing these efforts, however. They say that the coronavirus is not contained, and allowing more contact between people will lead to more deaths. They argue that the governors allowing businesses to open are putting lives at risk, and are also risking future economic problems in the coming months.

 

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is a notable exception to this movement to ease restrictions. She has extended her state’s lockdown orders until the end of May, and vowed to veto any attempt by the legislature to challenger her decision. Protesters appeared at the state capitol this week in opposition to voice opposition to her orders, which are among the strictest in the nation.

 

Do you support easing restrictions on businesses being open and social distancing?

Lawyers Argue that Trump’s Name on Stimulus Checks is Illegal

Stimulus checks going out to millions of Americans contain the name of President Donald Trump in the memo line. A bipartisan group of lawyers is arguing that this is a violation of federal law.

 

Congress passed legislation authorizing stimulus payments to tens of millions of Americans due to the economic effects of the coronavirus epidemic. Many of those payments were made by direct deposit. Some people, however, are receiving paper checks.

 

There were reports that President Trump wanted his signature to appear on the line authorizing the checks. Generally, the signature of the Secretary of the Treasury appears on government checks. Due to legal reasons, this idea could not be realized. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he had the idea to place the president’s name in the memo line of the check, something that has never been done before.

 

A group of lawyers who have worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations argues that this move was intended to boost the president’s re-election campaign. As such, they say, it violates a federal law that prohibits the use of federal employees and property for campaign purposes. They sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging him to appoint a special counsel to investigate this situation.

 

Legal observers note that no one has been prosecuted under the section of the federal code that these lawyers cite.

 

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation to prohibit the federal government from using the president or vice=president’s name or image in promotional material.

 

Do you think it was appropriate to put President Trump’s name on stimulus checks?

Democrats Want Federal Funding for Faster Internet

At a time when tens of millions of Americans are working from home or going to school from home, the Internet is proving critical to connecting people. Now some Democratic members of Congress want federal funding to boost high-speed Internet.

 

Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) have joined with Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) to advocate for a federal grant program for improved broadband access as part of the next coronavirus aid bill. They argue that this epidemic has shown the importance of high-speed Internet, and that some people are at a disadvantage because they don’t have this type of service.

 

Opponents of this idea say that Internet access is better left to the private sector, not the government. They argue that the government can distort the market and harm efforts to roll out broadband. They note the large increase in high-speed Internet access over the past decade that private businesses, not the government, accomplished.

 

There is ongoing discussion about what the next coronavirus aid bill should contain and when Congress should act on it. Democrats are pushing for a big aid package for state and local governments. Republicans are cool to this idea, but have not rejected it. This is the main sticking point in negotiations, and it is unclear when it will be resolved.

 

Do you think the federal government should take steps to improve high-speed Internet access?

McConnell Pushes to Limit the Coronavirus Liability of Business Owners

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to take steps to limit what he says will be a “lawsuit pandemic” in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

 

With businesses set to begin reopening around the nation, some people fear that there will be lawsuits from customers if they contract coronavirus in these places. Many business owners cite their concern over these potential lawsuits as one of the reasons they are hesitant to resume operation.

 

Sen. McConnell has said he will insist that any future bill to provide more aid related to the coronavirus must also contain a limitation on the liability for business owners and health care workers. He argues that this is a key way to begin restarting the economy.

 

Democrats in Congress have been pushing for a new coronavirus bill that will provide aid to local and state governments. Sen. McConnell has been cool to this idea, noting that many of these governments were facing budget issues prior to the coronavirus. He has said that the federal government should not be bailing out states that spent irresponsibly. However, he has said he would be open to considering carefully-crafted aid if it also contains a liability limit.

 

The Senate will likely meet next week. The House was supposed to reconvene, too, but Majority Leader Steny Hoyer now says that members will not be returning to Washington in early May.

 

Do you support giving business owners and health care workers protection from lawsuits over the coronavirus?

High Court Avoids Taking Stand in Gun Case

The Supreme Court today avoided making a decision that could have had a big impact on gun control laws across the country.

 

The case involved a New York city laws that prohibited licensed gun owners from transporting their guns to most places. Gun owners challenged this law, saying it restricted their rights to keep and bear arms. The city eventually changed the law, but the challengers continued to press their case in court.

 

The Supreme Court decided that since the law was no longer in effect, they did not need to make a decision about it. Some gun rights supporters viewed this case as a prime opportunity for the court to define the extent of Second Amendment protections for transporting firearms.

 

The case centered on an ordinance that restricted licensed gun owners from taking their firearms to any places except specified shooting ranges within the city and to designated hunting areas in New York state. The plaintiffs in the case were barred from participating in a shooting competition in New Jersey and were also told they could not take their guns to another home in New York state. They are arguing that these restrictions are an infringement upon their constitutional rights.

 

Since New York city has since amended the law to allow wider transport of firearms, the justices decided that the case is moot and dismissed it. Three justices dissented, however, indicating that they would have used this case as a way to recognize a wider individual right to carry a firearm.

 

This is the first major gun control case considered by the high court since 2010. There have been a handful of cases in the years prior to that which established an individual right to own a gun and said that neither the federal nor state governments could pass laws that prohibited gun ownership. However, the Supreme Court has yet to settle many legal issues over the numerous gun control laws that exist at the federal, state, and local level.

 

Do you think the Supreme Court should have decided that the Constitution protects the carrying of a gun outside the home?

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