The Top 10 Second Amendment-Related Court Rulings of 2017

Buoyed by Donald Trump’s upset victory in November, Second Amendment advocates expected great things to happen in 2017 with a pro-gun rights President and Republican-controlled Congress in Washington, D.C.

And, certainly, great things did happen: Within weeks of convening, Congress repealed dozens of Obama Administration “midnight” regulations under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), including a rule that arbitrarily labeled some Supplemental Security Income and Disability (SSI) recipients as “mental defectives,” unconstitutionally disqualifying them from legally owning a firearm without due process. 

Trump also fulfilled campaign promises to select a pro-Second Amendment justice to succeed the late Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. On Feb. 6, Trump selected 10th Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. Despite objections from Democrats, including vociferous caterwauling by gun control advocates, Gorsuch was confirmed in April. 

Equally pivotal was Trump’s pledge to stock the federal judiciary with justices favorable to gun owners’ rights. When he assumed office, 26 of 179 judgeships in the 13 federal circuit courts were vacant and at about 120 of 673 judgeships in the 93 federal district courts were unfilled. These lower court appointments will shape the judiciary for decades; while the U.S. Supreme Court hears about 80 cases a year, the nation’s 13 federal circuit courts alone handle more than 30,000 cases annually.

The Trump Administration, however, has been slow to submit nominees to fill these nearly 150 federal court vacancies. As of Dec. 14, just 12 appellate court judges and six district court judges nominated by Trump had been confirmed. The administration had only named six candidates to fill the remaining 14 circuit court seats and 32 nominees for more than 110 district court vacancies.

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