Fed Judge Strikes CA’s Anti-Gun Response to Texas Anti-Abortion Law

Gov. Newsom wants the CA law reacting to a Texas rule deputizing any local yokel to sue almost anyone for abortions to be heard by SCOTUS

Outsmarting either his opponents or himself, Governor Gavin Newsom claimed victory in Monday’s defeat of a gun law he’d proposed to provoke debate on Texas’s “bounty” law banning abortion.

Politico reports on this Sacramento game of three-dimensional chess as follows: U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez blocked California from enforcing Senate Bill 1327, which would enable citizens to bring lawsuits against gun manufacturers in what was billed as an equal and opposite reaction to the infamous and grotesque Texas ordinance that effectively deputizes citizens to seek, identify, and sue any private person they can possibly frame for having assisted in any way with an abortion, including cab drivers.

In his decision, Judge Benitez wrote that the “fee-shifting” provisions of the law amounted to an “unprecedented attempt to thwart judicial review.”

To which Governor Newsom replied: Exactly.

“I want to thank Judge Benitez,” the governor said in a statement Monday. “We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional.”

Newsom elaborated that the provision Benitez struck down in California’s law is identical to one in Texas’s so-called “bounty” law.

In his opinion, Benitez writes: “This Court concludes that the purpose and effect of § 1021.11 is to trench on a citizen’s right of access to the courts and to discourage the peaceful vindication of an enumerated constitutional right. The state fee-shifting statute undermines a citizen’s constitutional rights, it is this Court’s role to declare its invalidity and enjoin its threat.”

Governor Newsom cited this section in his own statement. “The provision [Benitez] struck down is a replica of what Texas did, and his explanation of why this part of SB 1327 unfairly blocks access to the courts applies equally to Texas’ SB 8,” the governor said.

Some of his putative ideological opponents came to a similar conclusion. On December 8, a Texas state court threw out a lawsuit against a doctor, ruling that it violated state law that prohibits abortions.

The Texas court’s ruling found that citizens need to have been directly affected by the situation in order to bring a lawsuit. While this leaves the state’s abortion ban in place, the Center for Reproductive Rights tweeted, “it sets a precedent for other courts when considering whether bounty-hunting laws violate state constitutions.”

Quoting Governor Newsom’s statement about Texas’s abortion law, Benitez wrote: “‘It is cynical.’ ‘It is an abomination.’ ‘It is outrageous and objectionable.’”

Since the judge’s injunction could put the gun law on a path to the U.S. Supreme Court, Newsom hopes to provoke a test of both it and the Lone Star abortion ban.

This play was likely inspired by widespread cognitive dissonance around the Supreme Court’s back-to-back decisions to allow states to ban abortions but prohibit them from banning firearms. But it’s a risky move, given a general alignment in vibe between certain conservative Supreme Court justices and Benitez, who recently compared an AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife.

As Jonathan Lowery, chief counsel of Brady, the nonprofit anti-gun lobbyists, said of Judge Benitez in the Los Angeles Times last year: “His opinions suggest a very inflated view of the right to guns and a very deflated view of the right of Americans to live.”

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