Nassau’s Kaplan fights Scotus rulings

Nassau’s Kaplan fights Scotus rulings
The New York State Capitol's interior. Two measures that were passed by the senate aim to overturn a number of contentious decisions made by the US Supreme Court over health care and firearms. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Following a controversial term for the U.S. Supreme Court, New York state legislators are attempting to codify two measures on gun possession and abortion in response to the seismic decisions by the justices.

In NYSRPA v. Bruen the conservative majority on the court determined June 23 that a New York state gun possession law was unconstitutional, declaring that carrying a gun in public is a protected activity under the Second Amendment. The next day the court overturned Roe v. Wade, ruling that the constitutional right to abortion was no longer valid.

In blue New York state senators rushed to draw up two bills to sidestep the decisions: S51001 and S51002. One deals with licensing for weapons and the other with equal rights protection.

During a July 1 floor vote in Albany, the gun bill passed by a vote of 43 to 20 and Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law. Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) is one of the eight sponsors of the bill that places new limitations on carrying a concealed gun.

“Last week, an activist Supreme Court packed with ultra-conservative justices upended a century of legal precedent and put the safety of every New Yorker at risk,” she said. “Today, we put the pieces back together and fixed what the Supreme Court destroyed because we refuse to let our communities fall victim to the unnecessary pain and suffering that gun violence inflicts.”

The legislation strengthens safe storage rules and introduces additional measures for where a permit holder may not carry a hidden firearm. It also enhances licensing criteria for concealed carry permits and makes technical adjustments to the Body Armor Law.

As for the abortion bill S51002, both the state Senate and Assembly approved the measure on July 1. But it’s only the beginning of amending the state’s constitution.

Kaplan and seven other senators are sponsoring the bill. It seeks to protect New Yorkers from discrimination and future court actions.

“The Supreme Court has been on a reckless spree of extreme and dangerous rulings that are wildly out of step with the nation,” she said. “There’s no telling whose rights they might attack next.”

The amendment would broaden the categories of people who are covered under the Equal Rights Amendment. During the July 1 floor vote, it carried by a vote of 49 to 14.

It would also ensure access to reproductive healthcare, defend marriage equality and maintain laws enacted to combat discrimination.

“The [Equal Rights Amendment] will protect LGBTQ+ New Yorkers in the event of another radical decision by the court,” said Kaplan. “I’ll continue to do whatever it takes to protect LGBTQ+ families in New York state against the rising tide of homophobia and transphobia.”

Two successive legislatures and a majority of voters must approve a resolution in a general election to change the state constitution. November 2023 would be the earliest a vote may occur.

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