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SCOTUS considers whether to take Illinois’ gun ban challenges

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(The Center Square) – The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to take up cases challenging Illinois’ gun and magazine ban.

Illinois banned the sale and possession of more than 170 semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities in January 2023. Lawsuits challenging the law on constitutional grounds followed. After preliminary motions went up through the federal appeals court, plaintiffs asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

Last month, justices put Illinois’ cases into conference. National Foundation for Gun Rights Executive Director Hannah Hill explained what that means.

“Conference is basically when the justices essentially sit down around a conference table and take the first look at cases, officially discuss the cases that have been brought for them for appeal,” Hill told The Center square.

There are several possible outcomes, including justices deciding to take the cases or not, or deciding to relist. That could be known as early as Monday.

“But I would be nervous about that,” Hill said. “It’s a lot easier to decide immediately to reject a case than it is to decide to take it.”

Hill is pushing for the ban to be overturned.

Earlier this month, in a case challenging Maryland’s gun and magazine ban, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a motion for the ban to be upheld in an appeals court.

“States should be able to protect residents and communities by upholding laws that restrict the sale and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity weapons,” Raoul said. “I will continue to collaborate with fellow attorneys general who prioritize public safety by defending commonsense gun safety measures.”

If the U.S. Supreme Court denies taking up Illinois’ cases, there are other cases gearing up to head that way.

Hill said there are other challenges lining up on the merits. But, she said, lower courts need to be sent a message to follow the Second Amendment’s text and tradition.

“It’s not going to change until the Supreme Court weighs in and says, ‘oh no, we actually meant what we said in [New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen], we meant what we said in [District of Columbia v. Heller] and we expect you to apply this to the low hanging fruit of assault weapons ban cases,’” she said.

Hill said those frustrated with the ongoing delays should trust that gun rights groups are taking every step they can in the courts.

“And they should make sure to deliver accountability to the people who did this to them, their own lawmakers, at the ballot box,” Hill said.

Also Thursday, Southern District of Illinois federal Judge Stephen McGlynn held a status conference with litigants in a consolidated case challenging the state’s ban on the merits. A docket entry Thursday afternoon said, “The parties are reminded that the Court intends for this matter to be resolved on an expedited basis.”

“In accordance with Courts Order issued during the Status and Scheduling Conference, the parties shall meet and confer to prepare a Joint Report of Parties and Proposed Scheduling Order addressing the plan for expert depositions as well as the proposed timeline and format of the final evidentiary hearing,” the entry said. “The Joint Report shall be submitted to the Courts production documents … no later than May 24, 2024. The Government shall provide an update no later than May 31, 2024 on whether expert witness Dr. Martin Schreiber shall submit an amended expert report or whether the Government will rely on the expert report submitted earlier in this case. Court sets a Status Conference via Zoom video for June 20, 2024 at 1:30 PM.”

Some say McGlynn is eyeing an early July date for a trial on the merits.