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Supreme Court takes action on transgender military ban, gun case

The Supreme Court dealt with some of the most politically charged issues in the nation on Tuesday. National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle joins Judy Woodruff to discuss why the Court's removal of the injunction on banning transgender military service people was "a little surprising," as well as an upcoming gun case with broad implications for public carry of weapons.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    From guns to immigration to who can serve our country, the U.S. Supreme Court today touched on some of the most politically charged issues in the nation.

    As always, Marcia Coyle, chief Washington correspondent for "The National Law Journal," is here to help explain what happened.

    Hello, Marcia. So…

  • Marcia Coyle:

    Hi, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    .. a lot going on. We haven't seen you for a while.

    But, today, the court did move on several fronts.

    Let's talk first about what they have done with respect to the Pentagon's policy on transgender people. What did they do?

  • Marcia Coyle:

    All right, first of all, the Trump administration had asked the Supreme Court to do two things. First, it wanted the court to lift the injunctions that were blocking the transgender policy.

    And, second, it wanted the Supreme Court to hear the merits of whether the policy was constitutional before the lower federal appellate courts would consider that question. So the court did agree to lift the injunctions against the policy, meaning the policy is in effect. That was a 5-4 decision.

    Dissenting were Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. But the court refused to leapfrog over the lower federal appellate courts and said that the policy is going to remain in effect until the Supreme Court gets a straightforward petition for review from whoever loses in the lower federal appellate courts.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, you are telling us, you're somewhat surprised that the judges chose to do this.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    I'm not surprised that they refused to leapfrog over the lower federal appellate courts.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    That is always disfavored. The courts wants the reasoning, the benefit of the reasoning of lower federal appellate courts.

    To allow the policy to go into effect while the process goes on was a little surprising. Certainly, there are transgender service members who will be affected by this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let's talk about some of the other rulings today, or non-rulings, on guns. The justices have now chosen to take up a significant case. Tell us about that.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    All right.

    The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is challenging New York City's premises license. That's a license that restricts the transport of a gun to shooting ranges within the city's boundaries. If you want to go outside of the city, you have to get a carry license. The association claims it violates the Second Amendment, the right to travel, and the Commerce Clause.

    And, Judy, it's potentially significant because the court could rule on what is the constitutional test for gun regulations, as well as, can there be public carry of guns, either open or concealed?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And you were telling us that's significant because you're going to see justices who have never ruled on a gun case like this.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    That's right, that's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And they will have to weigh in.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    You have Justices Kagan, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh who would be facing their first major gun case.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, I want to ask you, Marcia, about the court taking no action on what the Trump administration had asked them to do, and that has to do with the DACA recipients. These are young people who came to the United States with their parents without documentation.

    The administration wanted them to act on this. They said they will not do it right now.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    Well, the court really didn't say anything. It just has left untouched the government's petition to hear an appeal of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which found that the way in which the Trump administration was trying to end this program violated federal law.

    So no one really knows what the court's thinking is on this. Will they consider it next term? Will there be a special order at some point? We don't know. But, right now, it looks as though it may be too late for the court to hear the case this term. This is usually the cutoff point for new cases.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And just very quickly, Marcia, you were saying that it's unusual to see the court asked to, in so many words, fast-track cases like the ones they have been asked to by the administration.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    That's right.

    This administration has done quite a few in the last few months, and the court hasn't been all that receptive. The latest one was just late this afternoon involving the citizenship question on the U.S. census. The Trump administration notified the court that it was going to seek review of a trial judge's order finding that that question violated multiple federal laws, and wanted the court to hear it before the appellate court hears it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Marcia Coyle, thank you. A busy day at the court.

  • Marcia Coyle:

    Very. Thank you, Judy.

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