SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Neil Gorsuch, if confirmed a Supreme Court judge, could mean significant setbacks for several high profile cases in California.
Hi confirmation could mean big changes to some looming Supreme Court cases in California involving guns, police brutality and teachers.
Hearings at the Supreme Court aren’t happening very much these days. It’s been nearly a year since Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, leaving the court with a 4-4 split between liberals and conservatives. It takes 5 votes for the court to agree to hear a case, so the court hasn’t agreed to hear many and the ones it does hear, aren’t high-profile.
But that’s all going to change if Gorsuch is confirmed as there will once again be a conservative majority on the court.
For California, the stakes are especially high.
Professor Scott Eastman is the founder and director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence at Chapman Law School.
He agrees that California could benefit from what he calls, a Constitutional court. It is a high court that deals primarily with Constitutional law
Eastman said, “I think California’s in for a bit of a rude awakening.”
“I think, quite frankly, a Constitutional court is going to allow the states to go their separate ways as the Constitution originally envisioned…so if California wants to experiment with a medical marijuana law, they ought to be able to do that,” Eastman explains.
But the state wouldn’t be totally free to experiment.
“There are some areas that are clearly given to the federal government, like the power over immigration. So this latest push to make California a sanctuary state, is probably not going to go too far,” Eastman said.
Then there are individual rights.
Eastman said, “If California tries to overly restrict gun possession, as they have done, I think you’re going to see push-back on that by the court.”
Susan Solomon is the executive vice president of the United Educators of San Francisco – they’re part of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and wasted no time denouncing the nomination. She agrees California gun control laws are in jeopardy.
“There are several objections. One is around the Affordable Care Act…the other is on gun control, especially as educators. That is just huge for us,” Solomon said.
In fact, a case challenging San Diego’s gun restrictions has already been filed with the court.
California teacher’s unions are especially concerned about another challenge to their collection of union dues. Last year the Supreme Court failed to get a majority needed for an opinion, but the next challenge may result in unions unable to require employees to be members.
“We know that there are cases already in the pipeline,” Solomon said.
Despite all this, Solomon remains hopeful.
“It’s going to be tougher and I feel like California needs to lead the way,” Solomon said.