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SCOTUS Strikes Down New York Concealed Carry Law; January 6 Hearings. Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired June 23, 2022 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Erica Hill in for Kate Bolduan. We are following breaking news at this hour.
The U.S. Supreme Court has just issued a major ruling in the challenge to a New York gun law. This is the most significant Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade. In a 6-3 decision, the court struck down New York's law that places restrictions on concealed handguns. That law was enacted more than a century ago.
The majority of the court ruling, the Constitution protects a person's right to carry a gun outside the home. Jessica Schneider is live in Washington with these breaking details.
Jessica, what more was in this decision?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Erica, the Supreme Court here significantly expanding gun rights and expanding the scope of the Second Amendment for the first time since 2008.
So this is a 6-3 decision written by the senior most justice, Clarence Thomas. What it has done is it has struck down a New York gun law that restricted who could carry concealed handguns outside the home. It's a law that stood for more than a century.
But the court has now said that that law cannot stand and that crucially here the Constitution guarantees the right to carry a gun outside the home. That's something the Supreme Court has not said before.
The court also saying that states will be restricted from the types of rules that they can enact with guns. So really this decision not only strikes down the New York law and six other states that have laws that are basically identical to this New York law but it also puts state laws in jeopardy that are similar to this law, which required people to show proper cause when they apply for permits.
And it will allow scrutiny for all gun laws, for assault weapons, age restrictions, restrictions on magazines. While it strikes down the New York law, it institutes a new framework for courts to evaluate gun laws all over the country.
And the dissenting justices -- this was a 6-3 decision -- so the court's liberals dissented. What Stephen Breyer said is, "This severely burdened states' efforts to curb gun violence because this will call into question gun laws across the country."
Now while this struck down the New York law, there was a concurrence from Justices Alito, Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Roberts and it said this holding decides nothing about who may lawfully possess a firearm.
So they are saying there are some limits to this decision. But really, Erica, this decision is wide ranging.
It will call into question laws all over the country while most immediately striking down this New York law and laws in six other states just like it, that had very specific demands on people when they were applying to actually get a license for a concealed handgun in public.
And again, Erica, this happening in a state where we saw a mass shooting recently at a Buffalo supermarket and that have very populated, concentrated areas like New York City, where the politicians there are worried about people having concealed handguns and going into these very populous places.
HILL: That's exactly what you hear from officials here. Jessica, appreciate it. Thank you.
Also with us, chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Let's start with you. As Jessica brought up there, here in New York City, we are starting to see some reaction. We're hearing from, first and foremost, the Brooklyn D.A., who called this a nightmare for public safety, saying New York's strong gun laws have saved laws for over a century and the decision to open doors for millions of New Yorkers to carry a concealed weapon is a nightmare for public safety.
This sets up a conversation about policing versus these rights and I think we'll hear more of that in the wake of this decision.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: We sure are. And I think it's important to explain justice Thomas' reasoning, which is --
TOOBIN: -- I think a lot of people understand the First Amendment in the sense that everyone knows that, you and I, we don't need a permit from the government to hand out a leaflet in Times Square that says Biden for president or Trump for president.
The government is not allowed to regulate speech in this country except in very narrow circumstances. What justice Thomas says repeatedly in this opinion is the Second Amendment is just like the First Amendment.
The government may not regulate individuals' possession of weapons for self-defense, just like they can't regulate the speech of private citizens. That's a very different approach to the Second Amendment and to public safety that the Supreme Court has held previously.
And it's certainly a very different approach than the states, that are attempting to deal with gun violence, are putting forth now.
Now there is this, I think, somewhat bizarre concurring opinion by justice Kavanaugh, where he says, no, no, no, there still is the possibility for some sort of background check rules.
But that does seem inconsistent with what the majority holds, even though justice Kavanaugh is part of the majority. But what's clear, what's entirely clear from today's opinion, is that it is going to be much more difficult for states and localities to regulate any sort of gun possession, gun background checks, than it was previously.
HILL: Eric Ruben, as we look at the difficulties, should we be preparing for a flurry of lawsuits to challenge existing laws in states that do attempt to regulate that?
ERIC RUBEN, SMU LAW SCHOOL: Yes. I think one of the interesting things about this opinion is that not only did the court strike down New York's requirement for a heightened need for self-defense before you can get a permit.
But they also applied a methodology that's different than the lower courts have been applying. In particular, it said that lower courts have been doing it wrong. History and tradition alone, in conjunction with the Second Amendment, should be guiding the courts.
And one of the bigger issues that this presents is that, over the past 13 years, since the District of Columbia v. Heller case in 2008, courts have been adjudicating all sorts of requirements, assault weapon bans, large capacity magazine restrictions, gun owner possession laws.
And they have all been adjudicated under a different standard of review. So one of the sleeper issues, I think, is that it potentially opens the door to a new round of litigation, not just about public carry restrictions but about all firearm restrictions.
HILL: In terms of those restrictions --
TOOBIN: I just -- it's worth talking about just a little bit what justice Thomas means by history. There's a very long section in his opinion about what did the framers think about what the right to keep and bear arms meant?
And so what justice Thomas is really saying is that each court that evaluates gun regulations has to decide what did James Madison think about AR-15s, what did James Madison think about red flag laws?
Now Justice Breyer, who dissented, said, look, that is not the way we should read the Constitution. And that's -- but that's the way justice Thomas reads it and that's the majority opinion.
HILL: But that's so much of where we're at. When we look at the makeup of the court now, this is something that conservatives -- this has been a plan and an agenda for decades. And there is now a conservative-dominated court.
That was the goal of the Federalist Society and part of that includes this historical lens, which may or may not make sense to some people. But there's more and more of that.
TOOBIN: To be sure. I mean, you know, the conservative approach to interpreting the Constitution is generally known as originalism, very much associated with justice Scalia, who served on the court for many years, which is the idea that the words of the Constitution, the only way -- the only legitimate way for the court to analyze the Constitution is to analyze the words as they were understood when the Constitution was ratified in the late 18th century.
So the job for judges now in 2022 is to decide what did the -- what would the framers think about regulation of AR-15s.
TOOBIN: You know, first of all, it's very difficult to do. Second, you know, it's really hard to know what James Madison would think about AR-15s. But the Supreme Court has laid down, that's the rule now. The Constitution has to be interpreted, the Second Amendment in particular, based on what the framers would have thought about this regulation, at least according to justice Thomas.
The answer almost always is the framers would have thought that the individual had the right and the state didn't have the right to regulate. But that's what all these cases are going to be about.
And the one thing we know for sure is there are going to be a lot more cases challenging all sorts of gun restrictions, not the new ones that were passed in light of the mass shootings, including this New York law, which has been on the books for 100 years and is now gone. It's certainly not going to be the last gun restriction struck down.
HILL: Stay with us. We're going to get a quick break in here. Much more of our coverage as we continue the breaking news out of this Supreme Court, this key decision involving a New York state gun law, now struck down by the Supreme Court. Stay with us.
HILL: Our breaking news at this hour: a Supreme Court decision that opens the door to the widest expansion of gun rights in more than a decade. In a 6-3 decision, the justices struck down a New York state gun law that places restrictions on carrying a concealed gun outside the home.
Right now we are getting reaction from officials both state and local here in New York. I want to bring in CNN's Jason Carroll, who is following some of that reaction.
What are we hearing from those officials, Jason?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Manhattan D.A. really echoed what a lot of people here in the city and the state from the official level are feeling at this point, saying that what this decision does is it basically is going to undermine public safety.
Also Letitia James, the attorney general, saying we are currently reviewing the decision from the Supreme Court on New York's ability to regulate who can carry firearms in public. But we will continue to do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers from gun violence and preserve our state's common sense gun laws.
New York's governor has been waiting for this decision. New York City's mayor has been saying all along this is something that's been keeping him up late at night. Both officials basically saying they have been ready for this. New York's governor speaking about this decision just a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): What was in place since 1788, when the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified -- And I would like to point out to the Supreme Court justices that the only weapons at the time were muskets. I'm prepared to go back to muskets.
I don't think they envisioned the high-capacity assault weapon magazines intended for battlefields. But I guess we'll have to disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: And so, Erica, you heard this echoed before but the concern here is that when you live in a densely populated city like Manhattan, that what is eventually going to happen because of this is that minor confrontations are now going to be escalated into violent ones.
I mean, you look at New York City right now, already looking at a 28- year high in terms of gun-related arrests, and so the question then becomes, since both state and local officials have been waiting for this, what possibly could they do?
You talk to some experts here, legal experts, and they say perhaps they can throw up other barriers to make it more difficult to try to get a permit, deeper background checks, perhaps try to make it a little bit more cost prohibitive.
But at the end of the day, this is a major blow, not just for New York City but for other states as well. I mean, other states have these types of -- several other states have these types of proper clauses in their laws, California. New Jersey, for example, in the past you had to show, quote,
"justifiable need" in order to carry a concealed weapon. In Maryland, the quote was, you had to show good and a substantial reason.
Rhode Island, another state; Hawaii, another. Now all of that sort of out the window now that this decision has come down. Erica.
HILL: Jason Carroll with the latest for us on that reaction and potentially what comes next. Jason, thank you.
Also with us, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
What stood out to be in Governor Hochul's comments is what you and I were talking about before the break. She said in her comments, the only weapons at the time, referencing the Constitution, were muskets.
I don't think they envisioned high-capacity magazines designed for battlefields. We're going to hear more of that but the decision has been made.
TOOBIN: Right. You know, as Justice Robert Jackson said in a famous comment about the Supreme Court, we are not final because we are infallible. We are infallible because we are final. This is what the Constitution means today in 2022.
And the rest of us just have to deal with it, including the people who are trying to make gun laws exist that will stay on the books. I do think it's important to call some attention to justice Kavanaugh's concurring opinion where he's joined by Chief Justice Roberts --
TOOBIN: -- where he does say that it is permissible under today's decision to have some kinds of background checks, at least those kinds of background checks that don't leave any discretion to the authorities.
He seems to suggest that laws that say felons can't get weapons, those are constitutional. However, the majority opinion, which he also joined in, certainly calls into question a lot of different kinds of regulations.
And certainly the approach that justice Thomas took and the one he mandates for all future courts suggests that many more restrictions on states on what they can do and not do when it comes to regulating guns.
Certainly there is nothing that can be done that draws any sort of distinction between a public space and a private space. I mean, you have a constitutional right today to carry a gun in public, just as you had a constitutional right as of 2008 to have one in your home.
And that's a big difference. You know, it's one thing to allow people to keep guns in their homes, where, obviously, you know, there are many threats in a home, accidental shootings, children getting a hold of weapons. But now that you have a constitutional right to carry one in public,
bar fights, road rage, gang issues, I mean, this is a whole new dimension of opportunities for trouble.
But also, I should point out, it is also an opportunity, as justice Thomas points out, for people to engage in self-defense. That's the right he says people have. And that's why the Constitution requires that all of us have the right to carry a gun in public.
HILL: Listen, it is setting up a lot in terms of conversations, in terms of those dense public spaces, too. That's why we're hearing so much from officials obviously here in places like New York City.
We're going to continue to conversation on the other side of this break, including taking a look at how this ruling could impact those laws already on the books.
And this bipartisan agreement in the Senate on gun safety regulations. Stay with us.
HILL: In just a matter of hours, we will hear the fifth public hearing in the investigation into the insurrection. Today's hearing expected to focus on how Donald Trump tried to use the Justice Department in his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
CNN has learned former acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen will testify. The DOJ was not provided with any evidence of widespread voter fraud. Meantime, the DOJ is launching a fresh round of subpoenas in its own separate criminal investigation into the fake elector scheme.
We're also seeing for the first time a trailer for a new documentary series that follows Trump and his inner circle before and after January 6th. That series will be released by Discovery Plus, which is also owned by CNN's parent company.
The film's director has handed over his interviews with the former president and Trump's adult children to the panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's very honest and he is who he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He believes everything that he's doing is right. TRUMP: I think I treat people well unless they don't treat me well,
in which case we go to war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we talk about January 6th?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill.
What more can we expect to hear at the hearing today?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's the public hearing. Privately that filmmaker is meeting with the House select committee to talk about his interviews as they look at his footage.
But publicly we will see a story about the Justice Department under Donald Trump in the final days of his administration as he launched a relentless pressure campaign on the senior officials at the Justice Department to essentially lean on local officials and use the power of the federal government to try to overturn Joe Biden's victory, something that he was told time and again simply was illegal.
And also was told that there was no basis for his claims of widespread fraud. Now today we will hear testimony from three witnesses, who were part of those discussions in the Trump administration, including Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general at the time; Richard Donoghue, the deputy attorney general and also Steven Engel, another senior official, who was part of those discussions late in the Trump term.
Now we're getting a copy of Jeffrey Rosen's opening statement, in which he makes clear there were no allegations of fraud that would change the outcome of the election. There was no merit to those allegations.
He said that, "We thus held firm to the position that the department would not participate in any campaigns or political parties' legal challenges for the certification of the Electoral College votes.