The Supreme Court declined to review a case about the right to carry firearms outside the home, but two justices publicly dissented from their colleagues’ decision not to take up the issue.
The high court said Monday it would not hear a National Rifle Association-supported legal challenge by California resident Edward Peruta, who challenged a state law limiting gun-carrying permits to those showing "good cause" and a San Diego County policy that says concern about personal safety is not sufficient to fulfill the requirement.
Gun rights advocates say the limits violate the Constitutional right to bear arms.
However, the case could not muster the votes of four justices, which is the threshold to add it to the court’s docket.
The most notable aspect of the action announced Monday was that President Donald Trump’s newest appointee to the court—Justice Neil Gorsuch—joined conservative stalwart Justice Clarence Thomas in lamenting the court’s decision to dodge the issue for now. Gorsuch’s views on gun-rights issues were not well established by his writing or his earlier decisions as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, on Monday, Gorsuch joined Thomas’s opinion calling "indefensible" the 9th Circuit’s rationale in ruling against Peruta.
"The Second Amendment’s core purpose further supports the conclusion that the right to bear arms extends to public carry," Thomas wrote. "Even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively. "
"For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it," Thomas added.
In signing onto Thomas’ sharply worded dissent, Gorsuch signaled that he takes a broad view of Second Amendment rights. At least in this instance, he parted company with his right-leaning colleagues, at least some of whom who opted against taking the case.