Pro-gun judge targeted by Newsom might have the Supreme Court on his side


It’s not generally prudent to criticize the umpire before the start of a ballgame, or the judge who’s expected to consider the constitutionality of the new law you’re proposing. But Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t mince words Wednesday in referring to U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego, who is likely to have the first look at gun groups’ challenge to a bill that would restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in public.

“Look forward toward Judge Benitez’s decision — it’s already been written,” Newsom said at a news conference announcing the legislation, SB2 — portraying the judge as not only pro-gun but as so one-sided that he’s made up his mind and crafted his ruling long before the issue reaches his court.

He also said Benitez was “likely to overturn our assault weapons ban,” a law already in Benitez’s court that prohibits sale of guns with magazines that can hold more than 10 cartridges. And the governor referred to Benitez and Judge Ryan Nelson, author of a federal appeals court ruling last year that briefly overturned California’s ban on selling semiautomatic rifles to anyone under 21, as “ideologues.”

It’s not the first time Newsom has attacked Benitez, a veteran jurist to whom the National Rifle Association and like-minded organizations try to steer their suits against the state’s gun laws. After Benitez first struck down the assault-weapons law in June 2021, the governor described him as “a stone-cold ideologue… a wholly owned subsidiary of the gun lobby.”

But that was when Newsom and other gun-control advocates could be at least somewhat confident that a higher court would reinstate the California laws, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did to the assault-weapons ban while the case remains on appeal. The appeals court has overruled some of Benitez’sother decisions, including one that banned possession of guns with large-capacity magazines — part of a voter-approved 2016 ballot measure that Newsom sponsored when he was lieutenant governor.

The outlook changed last June when the Supreme Court overturned a New York law requiring individuals to show a special need for self-defense in order to carry concealed firearms outside the home. The 6-3 ruling also applied to similar laws in California and other states — and in the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said any restrictions on gun possession would be found unconstitutional unless the government could show that they were “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation,” dating back to the nation’s founding. Even if California’s restrictions survived in the lower courts, the high court could then consider them under its new standard.

Guns with large-capacity magazines and semiautomatic weapons, which can be fired repeatedly without reloading, did not exist in the 1790s. It’s less clear whether the government allowed private citizens, apart from the “well-regulated militia” mentioned in the Constitution’s Second Amendment, to carry firearms in public.

Attorney General Rob Bonta insisted that SB2 — which would limit the public places where concealed weapons could be carried, prohibit anyone under 21 from carrying them and set new licensing and training standards — had been “designed to comply with that the Supreme Court’s dictates and direction.”

But Stanford law professor John Donohue, who has studied firearms issues and is generally supportive of gun regulation, said the prospects were, at best, uncertain.

“It is certainly a perilous moment for those who favor wise regulation designed to address the growing problem of mass shootings,” Donohue told The Chronicle. “Right now, the gun lobby is challenging every state and municipality that restricts assault weapons and magazine size, so these demonstrably valuable tools that further public safety are very much under attack, with the gun lobby hoping the Supreme Court will eliminate these laws.

“On the other hand, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court may appreciate the reality of the modern — and sadly more common — problem of mass shootings and not try to thwart the democratic will of the people in the states that have tried to address this threat.”

The next word will probably come from Benitez, who is already reconsidering California’s bans on assault weapons and its voter-approved requirement for background checks on purchasers of ammunition. The Ninth Circuit Court had allowed the state to enforce those laws, but returned them to Benitez for reconsideration under the Supreme Court’s new standards.

Benitez, 72, was born in Cuba and came to the United States as a child. He attended college and law school in San Diego and practiced law for nine years before Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him to the Imperial County Superior Court in 1997. Four years later, he was chosen by federal judges in San Diego to be a magistrate in their courts, hearing mostly pretrial proceedings, then was named to a new federal judgeship by President George W. Bush in 2004 at the recommendation of a committee led by California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

The American Bar Association rated Benitez as unqualified, largely because of what foes described as his unfavorable temperament. But Feinstein — who 10 years earlier had sponsored a nationwide federal ban on large-capacity, semiautomatic weapons, which Congress allowed to expire in 2004 — praised Benitez’s “superb demeanor, intelligence, pragmatism and fairness,” and helped him win Senate confirmation on a 98-1 vote.

Benitez’s first significant gun ruling was in 2017, when he blocked enforcement of the ban on possessing guns with high-capacity magazines. Since then, the NRA and its allies have filed their challenges to state laws in the San Diego federal court, and Benitez has agreed to hear them as cases “related” to his 2017 decision.

His rulings have been noteworthy for their language as well as their outcome.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment. Good for both home and battle,” Benitez wrote in the opening lines of his 2021 ruling overturning the state’s ban on large-capacity semiautomatic rifles. Later, he compared the rifles — used in half of the nation’s 10 deadliest mass shootings — to seat belts and smoke detectors, saying both were essential in emergencies.

In his April 2020 decision overturning voter-approved background checks for buyers of ammunition, Benitez observed, “Criminals, terrorists and tyrants don’t do background checks.”

“I don’t believe this judge would uphold a single gun law anywhere,” Robyn Thomas, then-executive director of the San Francisco-based Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said after Benitez’s 2021 ruling.

Gun advocates said the criticisms were unfounded.

“The judge is a fair, thorough and thoughtful jurist who holds the state to its burden of proof,” C.D. Michel, attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Association, the NRA’s state affiliate, said Wednesday. “As a refugee from the Cuban revolution, he has seen tyranny up close and personal.”

Michel said the Supreme Court’s new standard “requires the state to present evidence, not platitudes or press conferences, to justify the infringement of the Second Amendment’s fundamental protections. That’s what the governor resents.”

Another advocacy group, the Firearms Policy Coalition, called Newsom “just another opportunistic authoritarian politician with a hair stylist.” In the upcoming cases, the group said, “he will lose and he knows it.”

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @BobEgelko

Source link

Articles You May Like

Lawmakers Reintroduce Bill to Strengthen Gun Rights for Nomads, Military
Gun owners threaten immediate lawsuits over Biden order increasing background checks
Liberals will never leave gun owners alone
Wisconsin Republicans float bill to designate state rifle
Federal Judge Blocks 2001 California Law Requiring Safety Features on Handguns


  1. Do you have a spam problem on this website;
    I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; we have created some nice methods and we are looking to trade methods with
    other folks, please shoot me an e-mail if interested.

  2. Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access
    consistently quickly.

  3. Hello there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know
    how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when viewing from my apple
    iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to
    correct this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Thank you!

  4. Hi, I do believe this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am
    going to revisit yet again since I saved as a favorite it.
    Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you
    be rich and continue to guide others.

  5. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website.

    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did
    you hire out a developer to create your theme?
    Great work!

  6. Hey there I am so happy I found your blog page, I really found you
    by error, while I was searching on Google for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for a marvelous
    post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design),
    I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and
    also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb job.

  7. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too fantastic.
    I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like
    what you’re stating and the way in which you
    say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it wise.
    I cant wait to read far more from you. This is really a wonderful website.

  8. What i do not realize is in reality how you are now not really a
    lot more smartly-liked than you might be now. You’re
    very intelligent. You already know thus significantly with regards to this matter, made me individually believe it from a lot of various angles.
    Its like women and men are not fascinated except it is something to accomplish with Lady gaga!
    Your individual stuffs outstanding. Always deal with it up!

  9. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this excellent blog!

    I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will share this website with my Facebook group.
    Talk soon!

  10. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason appeared to be
    on the web the easiest thing to be aware of.
    I say to you, I definitely get irked while people consider worries that they just do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal.

    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  11. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that
    “perfect balance” between usability and appearance.
    I must say you have done a amazing job with this.
    Also, the blog loads very quick for me on Internet explorer.

    Outstanding Blog!

  12. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your weblog.
    You have some really great posts and I believe I would be a
    good asset. If you ever want to take some of
    the load off, I’d really like to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back
    to mine. Please send me an e-mail if interested. Kudos!

  13. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her
    ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

  14. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without
    a doubt donate to this excellent blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding
    your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates
    and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  15. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new
    scheme in our community. Your website provided us with valuable info
    to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and our entire
    community will be thankful to you.

  16. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
    After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you
    write again very soon!

  17. I’ve learn several good stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting.
    I wonder how a lot attempt you set to make this kind of fantastic informative
    web site.

  18. Greate post. Keep posting such kind of info on your site.
    Im really impressed by it.
    Hello there, You have performed a great job. I will certainly digg it and for my part suggest to my friends.

    I am sure they will be benefited from this site.

  19. What i do not understood is if truth be told how you
    are no longer actually much more neatly-liked
    than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent.
    You recognize thus considerably in relation to this
    matter, made me in my view believe it from numerous numerous angles.
    Its like women and men aren’t interested except it is something to do with
    Lady gaga! Your individual stuffs great. All the time maintain it up!

  20. hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something
    new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical points using this web site,
    since I experienced to reload the web site lots of times previous to I could
    get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK?
    Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will
    often affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords.
    Well I am adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective intriguing content.
    Ensure that you update this again very soon.

  21. Excellent pieces. Keep writing such kind of information on your blog.

    Im really impressed by it.
    Hey there, You’ve done a great job. I will definitely digg it
    and individually suggest to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

  22. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it,
    you may be a great author. I will be sure to
    bookmark your blog and will come back very soon. I
    want to encourage you to continue your great writing, have a nice day!

  23. Hello! Quick question that’s completely off topic.

    Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when viewing from my
    iphone4. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem.

    If you have any suggestions, please share. With thanks!

  24. Hey I am so thrilled I found your blog page, I really found you by error, while I was researching on Google for something
    else, Regardless I am here now and would just like
    to say thanks a lot for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling
    blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I have saved it and also added in your RSS feeds, so
    when I have time I will be back to read a great
    deal more, Please do keep up the great job.

  25. Hi there! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.

    Your blog provided us beneficial information to work
    on. You have done a marvellous job!

  26. I’m extremely inspired along with your writing abilities and also
    with the structure in your blog. Is this
    a paid theme or did you modify it your self? Anyway stay up the
    excellent quality writing, it’s uncommon to look a nice blog like this one today..

  27. Hello There. I discovered your weblog the usage
    of msn. That is a really smartly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and
    come back to read more of your useful info. Thank you for the post.
    I’ll certainly return.

  28. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to
    the whole thing. Do you have any tips for beginner blog writers?
    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  29. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future
    and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post
    and if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things
    or tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring
    to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

  30. Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a
    little lost on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a
    paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m totally confused
    .. Any ideas? Many thanks!

  31. What’s Taking place i’m new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It positively helpful and it has helped me out loads.
    I hope to contribute & assist other users like its helped me.
    Great job.

  32. We’re a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site offered us with valuable information to work on.
    You’ve done an impressive process and our whole community
    can be thankful to you.

  33. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your blog. Do you ever
    run into any browser compatibility problems?
    A few of my blog visitors have complained about my site not operating correctly
    in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any ideas
    to help fix this issue?

  34. Howdy! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one?
    Thanks a lot!

  35. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your website offered us with valuable information to work on. You have
    done a formidable job and our entire community will be grateful
    to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *