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Hawaii Justices “Declare War” on U.S. Supreme Court, to the Cheers of Anti-Gun Media

In Hawaii, a man who was peacefully carrying a pistol for his own self-protection while on a nature hike was arrested and subject to felony prosecution under state laws that generally confine the possession of guns and ammunition to one’s own home or premises.

The man, Christopher Wilson, invoked the Second Amendment and Hawaii’s constitutional right to arms (with wording identical to the Second Amendment) in his defense. Wilson prevailed on these claims in the lower court, and the state appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

There, the court disparaged Wilson’s federally-guaranteed right to bear arms and denied him standing to challenge the state’s license to carry law, even though the state illegally refused to issue licenses during the relevant time period.

In doing so, the court openly mocked the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence; adopted dissenting language as binding law; and cited a television show and the Aloha Spirit” in its “reasoning.”

The opinion in State v. Wilson thus makes plain the thinly-disguised refusal anti-gun states have shown to complying with the Second Amendment. The anti-gun media is likewise dropping its usual pretense to celebrate this act of judicial rebellion.

We have written extensively about the open defiance anti-gun states have shown to the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of its decisions recognizing and elaborating upon the individual right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment.

To summarize, each time the Supreme Court has issued an opinion upholding this right, anti-gun states have responded by passing laws that make obtaining and lawfully using firearms more difficult, more expensive, and less practical for law-abiding people.

They have also insisted that existing laws passed under the pretext that no individual right existed under the Second Amendment were somehow nevertheless perfectly consistent with that right.

Then, when they add even more burdens to those laws after the individual right is articulated in binding case law, they invoke “public safety” to justify measures that have nothing to do with antisocial behavior.

This charade – as transparent, tiresome, and aggravating as it is – has nevertheless provided one opportunity after another for the U.S. Supreme Court to build upon its Second Amendment rulings.

Since 2008, with the landmark decision of District of Columbia v. Heller, firearm prohibitionist have gone 0 for 4 before the high court. One other case was favorably mooted for their side, but that merely set up an epic loss for them two years later in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which recognized the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.

This has made prohibitionists increasingly furious, vengeful, desperate, and defiant. Yet that defiance has largely operated within the pretext of regular order, in which lip service is paid to complying with the law and to the ultimate authority of the Supreme Court in construing the U.S. Constitution and federal laws.

Wilson is notable not so much for ignoring or misapplying Supreme Court precedent – which is the typical modus operandi of prohibitionist judges – but for the openness of the contempt, disrespect, and rebelliousness it displays to superior judicial authority.

The legal profession is dependent upon norms of professionalism, civility, neutrality, and respect for established hierarchies. It has binding codes of conduct to enforce these norms, among which in Hawaii include the injunction to avoid falsely or recklessly impugning the integrity of judges or other legal officers.

Judges themselves are held to an even higher standard of conduct and must avoid even the “appearance of impropriety.” To be sure, the profession does not always live up to the letter or spirit of these norms, but they remain an important safeguard in upholding the legitimacy of the legal system. After all, if a person cannot resort to the judicial system to peacefully adjudicate disputes or violations of vested rights, what options are left?

Ironically, one of the best sources in explaining just how far afield the Wilson opinion is of these norms is an article published by the anti-gun media organ Bloomberg News (the namesake of which, Michael Bloomberg, is a leading funder and advocate of the firearm prohibition cause). That article also abandons the norms that once applied to the profession it represents and unreservedly cheers what it calls the Hawaii Supreme Court’s declaration of “war.”

The article is headlined “Hawaii Rightly Rejects Supreme Court’s Gun Nonsense.” It begins with the assertion, “Blue states are not generally known for attacking the federal government or running rogue programs in defiance of federal law,” an implicit acknowledgement that what is to follow is an example of exactly that.

Yet even as the article manages a disparaging reference to “an insurrectionist who wants to be president,” it takes the side of state justices whose “frustration” with the Supreme Court “flowed like lava from an angry volcano” and who rejected any obligation of “deference” or even “basic respect.”

But it’s not just the opinion’s unusual tone that earns the approval of Bloomberg’s scribe. “Hawaii declared Bruen null and void in the Aloha State,” the article continues, a move it characterizes as “an open display of contempt.” It goes on: “The purpose of the Hawaii opinion … is not merely to shame the passengers of the constitutional clown car in Washington. It’s to declare war on the chaos that they enable.”

The article also indulges in its own swipes at the Supreme Court, criticizing its purported “hackishness” and seething, “The US Supreme Court is perhaps best understood as an old-school ward heeler who dresses Christmas turkeys for the neighborhood partisans in highfalutin words.” It concludes by calling the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence a “game” the “Hawaii Supreme Court seems to be finished playing.”

Temper tantrums may provide a temporary catharsis for weak-minded individuals with low impulse control. Rarely, however, do they prevail where serious people are engaged in the mature business of making consequential decisions. Hopefully Mr. Wilson’s case eventually lands before such a tribunal, for it is his right as an American – and those of his fellow Hawaiians – that are the casualty of those actors in the state and media who believe their indignation is a law unto itself.

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