Thursday, March 26, 2015

Rehearing for Peruta and Richards

Photo credit: Associated Press.

As suspected from the outset, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has voted to rehear both Peruta v. San Diego and Richards v. Prieto, which had established that California’s handgun-licensing regime was unconstitutional as applied. The earlier victory in these lawsuits came as something of a surprise but was really just the result of a lucky draw for the original three-judge panel. The full court is heavily populated by Democratic appointees, so in all likelihood, the initial ruling will be reversed by this “rare” en banc review.

Civil-rights proponents on the court may have delayed this moment for as long as possible. Many thousands of licenses have been issued for the good cause of self-defense since the original decision, including within the jurisdiction of my former home, Orange County. The jurisprudence from Peruta has also been incorporated into other important right-to-arms cases, most notably Palmer v. D.C., which overturned the capital district’s no-issue law. Nevertheless, the end result was predictable.

When Peruta is reversed and transformed into a copy of the Kachalsky (USCA2), Woollard (USCA4), and Drake (USCA3) rulings, one question will remain. Will the U.S. Supreme Court take up the case and settle the matter constructively? Thus far, the high court has declined to review all of the right-to-carry cases that have come before it, so there is little reason to believe that the same dereliction won’t be visited here.

The boundary of the present inflection point may be growing near, and I can almost see the threads of historical probability coiling just beyond its veil. I’ve said before that we can’t return to that polite middle ground where the disparate factions pretend to ignore each other’s intentions. Outside the inflection point, linear progression becomes hyperbolic change. What that will do to the American nation remains unclear.