Clarence Thomas Breaks Decade of Silence, Asks – Under What Circumstances Can the State Deny Rights?

Yesterday Thomas seized on that point and expanded it during an exchange with Assistant Solicitor General Ilana Eisentein. “You’re saying that recklessness is sufficient to trigger a ­ misdemeanor violation of domestic [assault] that results in a lifetime ban on possession of a gun, which, at least as of now, is still a constitutional right,” he said. “Can you think of another constitutional right that can be suspended based upon a misdemeanor violation of a state law?” Eisenstein could not.

Thomas noted that Voisine and Armstrong, assuming they’re covered by 18 USC 922, would permanently lose their Second Amendment rights, even though their crimes did not involve guns or any other weapons. Then he posed a hypothetical: Imagine that a publisher commits a misdemeanor by violating a ban on using children in certain kinds of advertising. “Could you suspend that publisher’s right to ever publish again?” he asked. Eisenstein thought not.”

So how is that different from suspending your Second Amendment right?” Thomas asked. Eisenstein replied that Congress had “the compelling purpose” of preventing escalating domestic violence by people with a demonstrated propensity to commit such crimes. She also noted that misdemeanants can seek to recover their Second Amendment rights by petitioning for a pardon or expungement.

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