“People who have strong opinions about the court or strong opinions about what the court should do like to think that when the court does things they like, the public approves and when the court does things they don’t like, the public disapproves,” he said. “I’m skeptical of all those sorts of analyses.”
The justices have said in the past that they issue opinions as they are ready, without consideration to events outside of the courtroom.
“The justices are not likely to be focused on the news cycle when releasing the opinion,” Winkler said. The only reason the two mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde could create a delay, he said, is if a justice decides to reference it in their opinion or dissent, possibly as an explanation for why there needs to be more guns safety regulations.
“It’s always possible it could slow down the issuance of a decision as justices wish to make mention of these mass shootings in their opinion, but other than that I think the court is sort of willfully blind to what’s happening in the news when releasing its opinions.”
The court doesn’t announce on or ahead of opinion days which cases will be handed down.
“The court tends to release their decisions when they’re ready or when they think they’re ready,” Adler said.
There has been at least one notable exception.
In 2015, the Supreme Court announced that it would issue decisions on a Friday — an unusual opinion day. The day, June 26, turned out to be the anniversary of two landmark LGBTQ rulings, United States v. Windsor, striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and Lawrence v. Texas, striking down state sodomy laws. The court issued another landmark gay rights ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that day, affirming the right to same-sex marriage.
Adler said that timing was likely driven by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored all three of the rulings expanding LGBTQ rights and retired from the court in 2018.
“We don’t have a lot of evidence that the current court modifies the timing or has sought to modify the timing of releases,” he said.
While the recent shootings could impact the timing of the court’s decision, a representative for Gun Owners of America said the courts shouldn’t delay its decision because of these events.
“We need the court’s decision now more than ever,” said Aidan Johnston, the group’s federal affairs director. “In recent weeks we have seen gun-free zones and conceal carry permit laws disarm people on the New York subway, disarm shoppers in Buffalo, New York, and we’ve seen the Gun-free School Zone Act disarm and leave vulnerable our children. We need to be able to carry firearms in self-defense now.”
An advocate for gun safety laws said she hopes the justices will consider the Uvalde shooting when writing their ruling and the impact that a decision expanding the right to firearms in public spaces could have.
“I am an optimist and, even in the wake of such tragedy, I like to think the members of the court are human, have children, will be impacted,” said Esther Sanchez-Gomez, senior litigation attorney at Giffords Law Center.
Though the court is likely in its final stages of revising the decision in the Bruen case, she said “it’s not done until it’s done.”
(Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for universal background checks and gun safety measures, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company Bloomberg LP.)©2022 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.