CNN's Sciutto Frets Supreme Court May Expand Gun Rights

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Monday's New Day on CNN, as fill-in co-host Jim Sciutto and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin discussed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to take up a gun case originating in New York, the two fretted that the right-leaning Court might end up barring many gun control proposals that are popular with liberals like more restrictive background checks.

After Toobin recalled details of the case, Sciutto followed up as he seemed worried about how far the Court would go in the conservative direction:

JIM SCIUTTO: What's really key here -- this is what strikes me, and folks at home might want to pay attention to this -- is that the Supreme Court could rule in such a way here that makes any attempt at local regulation of weapons, even at the state level, impossible. Is that right?

Toobin described Americans as "polarized" on the issue pitting those who oppose more restrictions against those who want more regulations in response to recent mass shootings. Sciutto followed up:

JIM SCIUTTO: This would be remarkable. I mean, based on what you know -- and you're a student of the Court like no one. The makeup of the Court today -- do you see that as likely that they rule? And would the consequence really be that a state that says, you know, "We've just had an Orlando -- we've just had an El Paso or Dayton -- we'd like to outlaw, you know, semi-automatic --"

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Bump stocks.

SCIUTTO: Bump stocks or high-capacity magazines, that a Court decision could make that impossible?

After Sciutto oddly wondered if it was possible that the Court would go back in the opposite direction and overturn the Heller case from a decade ago, leading to Toobin expressing doubt that Chief Justice John Roberts would change his vote to the liberal side, the fill-in host then seemed concerned that the Court might block efforts by liberals as he asked: "Even could background checks -- expanded background checks be blocked by a decision like this?"

After Toobin argued that it would be unlikely that the Court would bar background checks in the upcoming case, but that it might go further in future cases, Sciutto alluded to debunked claims about how popular expanded background checks allegedly are as he followed up:

SCIUTTO: And to be fair, the polls are a massively different size because the public polling shows that a large majority of people do support measures like this, right? You've got a very powerful but small poll.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, December 2, New Day on CNN:

6:53 a.m. Eastern

JIM SCIUTTO: What's really key here -- this is what strikes me, and folks at home might want to pay attention to this -- is that the Supreme Court could rule in such a way here that makes any attempt at local regulation of weapons, even at the state level, impossible. Is that right?

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Absolutely. And again this is an example of how polarized the country is because you have gun rights advocates saying that any sort of gun regulation is unconstitutional -- larger -- bump stocks.

SCIUTTO: Even 100 magazines, you know, 100-round magazines?

TOOBIN: Yeah, and you have a tremendous feeling in the country among many people that, in the wake of mass shootings, in the wake of Parkland, in the wake of Sandy Hook that we need more gun regulation, not less. And what the Supreme Court may do is say that legislation is simply off the table.

SCIUTTO: This would be remarkable. I mean, based on what you know -- and you're a student of the Court like no one. The makeup of the Court today -- do you see that as likely that they rule? And would the consequence really be that a state that says, you know, "We've just had an Orlando -- we've just had an El Paso or Dayton -- we'd like to outlaw, you know, semi-automatic --"

TOOBIN: Bump stocks.

SCIUTTO: Bump stocks or high-capacity magazines, that a Court decision could make that impossible?

TOOBIN: Absolutely, absolutely. it could. Now, the Court tends not to leap all the way to, you know, a broad conclusion in a single case. But you could see a decision in this case which basically says, "We are going to strictly look at all -- any sort of gun regulation and basically invalidate them. And so this case would be a very important clue of where the Court is going.

(…)

SCIUTTO: Even could background checks -- expanded background checks be blocked by a decision like this?

TOOBIN: I don't think this case itself will make background checks impossible, but I think if the Second Amendment continues to grow, if they start, you know, expanding the meaning, background checks could definitely be unconstitutional, and that's -- I mean, it's such a perfect issue about the polarization of the country. You have the gun lobby moving in one direction, much of the rest of the country moving in the other.

SCIUTTO: And to be fair, the polls are a massively different size because the public polling shows that a large majority of people do support measures like this, right? You've got a very powerful but small poll.

TOOBIN: But you have an even more powerful United States Supreme Court who, honest to goodness, don't follow the polls. I mean, those justices do what they think is right. They do what fits their ideological profile, and that may be to make gun control -- gun regulation increasingly impossible...

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