The Supreme Court declined the opportunity Monday to hear a case involving an appellate court ruling that restored the Second Amendment rights of two Pennsylvania men who had been convicted of non-violent misdemeanor crimes but treated as felons under the federal gun ban.
Julio Suarez of Gettysburg and Daniel Binderup of Manheim were both convicted of non-violent misdemeanors, but their punishments carried maximum possible sentences of more than two years.
Neither man served jail time, but their gun rights were rescinded because the maximum possible sentences for their crimes were within the definition of a felony in the federal gun ban.
The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2016 ruled to restore the gun rights of the two men, maintaining that their misdemeanors were not sufficient to rescind their right to “keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment.
The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case comes as a blow to both the Trump administration and gun control advocates.
The Trump administration said the court should uphold the prohibition on gun ownership for any crime that is classified as a felony in federal law, arguing that reviewing individuals on a case-by-case basis is a threat to public safety.
Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they were interested in hearing the case.
Suarez was convicted in Maryland in 1990 of carrying a handgun without a license, a misdemeanor with a maximum possible sentence of three years.
He received a six-month sentence, which was suspended, and a year of probation.
Binderup pleaded guilty in 1998 to having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old employee at his bakery business.
Binderup’s misdemeanor carried a maximum sentence of five years, but he was given probation instead.
Since both men’s crimes carried maximum sentences of over two years in prison, they were considered felons in the eyes of the federal government.
In 2013 and 2014, both men sued separately to overturn the felon gun-possession prohibition. Both pointed to the nature of their non-violent offenses and to their lenient sentences.
The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 8-7 to restore their gun rights, ruling that individuals may challenge the felon gun-possession prohibition on the basis of the particular offenses of which they were convicted.
While the Third Circuit’s decision does not set a nationwide legal precedent, it opens the door for other convicted criminals to appeal the ban in individual cases.
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