Supreme Court Throws out Crucial Part of Brady Law

By Murray, Frank J. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 28, 1997 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court Throws out Crucial Part of Brady Law


Murray, Frank J., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The Supreme Court shot down a key provision of the Brady gun-control law yesterday, saying the 10th Amendment bars Congress from commandeering police for checks on handgun buyers during a five-day waiting period.

The historic declaration that the states' rights amendment to the Constitution shields state officials from being dragooned into federal service represents the third time this week the justices asserted their power to throw out a high-profile act of Congress.

The decision allows 20 states still subject to the Brady law to stop doing background checks. But gun dealers still must file so-called Brady forms, even if no investigation will be done, and wait five days to deliver a handgun.

Other states are exempt because they have alternative systems. The system thrown out yesterday would have ended in November 1998, when the nationwide federal system is due to be on line.

Nevertheless, the significance to future efforts to order local officials into federal tasks could be enormous.

"The federal government may not compel the states to implement, by legislation or executive action, federal regulatory programs," said the 5-4 opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia.

The temporary Brady law mandate on police violates the Constitution and threatens state independence and autonomy that could reduce them "to puppets of a ventriloquist Congress," Justice Scalia said.

His majority opinion was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

Dissenting were Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

"The majority's rule seems more likely to damage than to preserve the safeguards against tyranny provided by the existence of vital state governments," a visibly upset Justice Stevens replied in an unusual 19-minute peroration.

He presided yesterday in the absence of the chief justice and, after delivering his monologue and a warm tribute to marshal's aide William Mathews, who retired after 40 years, declared the court in recess for the summer.

Justice Stevens said the ban on enlisting local officials could jeopardize the response to a national emergency - administering a military draft, enlisting air raid wardens, inoculating children in an epidemic or countering a terrorist. He said Congress likely would respond with new bureaucracies.

Justice Breyer seconded that and, as has become his custom, praised European practices in a separate statement that said the federal systems of Switzerland, Germany and the European Union use state governments to implement federal laws.

That observation was targeted by Justice Scalia, who called "such comparative analysis inappropriate to the task of interpreting a Constitution, though it was of course quite relevant to the task of writing one."

While a "somewhat disappointed" Handgun Control Inc. President Sarah Brady called for legislation to properly authorize background checks for the 16 months until the federal system takes over, the National Rifle Association was delighted.

"We feel vindicated by this decision," said NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre. "All along we've favored separating criminals from the law-abiding. We've said the better way to do it is the instant check at the federal level, which we've supported from the start."

In Montana, Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz, one of several who challenged the provision, called it "a victory for the American people - not only firearms owners but persons who don't choose to own firearms."

Police organizations predicted most departments will continue to investigate buyers voluntarily, although in the two cases decided yesterday state laws may block that. Montana forbids it, and the opinion said Arizona law also could prohibit compliance. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Supreme Court Throws out Crucial Part of Brady Law
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.