US Supreme Court to hear cases on gun laws, First Amendment and state secrets privilege
skeeze / Pixabay
US Supreme Court to hear cases on gun laws, First Amendment and state secrets privilege

The US Supreme Court on Monday announced it will hear three new cases, on subjects including the scope of the state’s power to place limits on the Second Amendment, the relationship of legislative censure to the First Amendment, and the extent of the government’s state secret protection privileges during the discovery process.

The first case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, presents a challenge to a New York law requiring citizens to obtain a license to lawfully own a gun. License applicants must show that they have a “non-speculative need for self-defense,” which could include “hunting, target shooting, or employment.” Circuit courts are split on whether these regimes are constitutional—they have been upheld in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits and struck down in the Seventh, Ninth and DC Circuits.

The second case, Houston Community College System v. Wilson, deals with whether censure resolutions handed down by a legislative body infringe on First Amendment free speech protections. David Wilson was a member of the Houston Community College Board of Trustees. He was censured for violating a “core requirement” of the system’s internal rules and regulations, following accusations that he organized a flood of robocalls after a decision to establish a campus in Qatar, which he voted against. Wilson challenged the order, arguing that a censure for his public statements violated his First Amendment right. The board countered that the censure was a legitimate use of its authority to enforce internal guidance, which Wilson was in violation of.

The third case, United States v. Zubaydah, examines the scope of the state secrets privilege in the discovery process. Zubaydah, a former associate of Osama bin Laden who is currently incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay, claims he was held and tortured at an unlisted CIA detention facility in Poland in the early 2000s. Zubaydah later became involved in a criminal investigation into CIA conduct at the Polish facility and sought to subpoena documents related to his incarceration that would be relevant in the Polish investigation. The CIA argues that it is entitled to withhold some classified documents that it claims are state secrets, but the Ninth Circuit disagreed and allowed discovery to continue.