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Opinion | Do Gun Rights Depend on Abortion Rights? That’s Now Up to the Supreme Court.

And on the Second Amendment case, a challenge to New York State’s limits on licenses for carrying a concealed weapon, there was little surprise that a majority appeared ready to interpret the Constitution to require a substantial expansion of individual gun rights.

Still, something interesting did emerge from the proximity of the week’s arguments. The Texas law, S.B. 8, seeks to take state officials out of the role of enforcing the ban on abortion that the law imposes at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. Instead, any individual may bring a private damages action for at least $10,000 against anyone who provides or enables an abortion in violation of the law. At least while Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey remain as precedents, the six-week ban is flagrantly unconstitutional. The idea of turning every citizen into a potential vigilante is to immunize state officials from a federal court lawsuit that would challenge the law’s constitutionality, on the theory that no official has anything to do with the law’s enforcement.

Arkansas, Florida and other red states, even the former swing state of Ohio, may well emulate Texas with their own versions of S.B. 8. But what about blue states? A brief filed against Texas by a gun-rights group, the Firearms Policy Coalition, raised the prospect that if the state’s vigilante mechanism prevails, states favoring limitations on gun ownership contrary to Supreme Court precedent could enact their own copycat laws authorizing individuals to sue gun owners. In the federal government’s suit against Texas — one of the two cases the court heard on Monday — the Justice Department’s brief underscored the “startling” implication of the state’s position. “A state could use the same mechanism to effectively nullify any constitutional decision of this court with which it disagreed,” the brief said, adding:

A state might, for example, ban the sale of firearms for home protection, contra District of Columbia v. Heller, or prohibit independent corporate campaign advertising, contra Citizens United v. FEC, and deputize its citizens to seek large bounties for each sale or advertisement. Those statutes, too, would plainly violate the Constitution as interpreted by this court. But under Texas’ theory, they could be enforced without prior judicial review — and, by creating an enforcement scheme sufficiently lopsided and punitive, the state could deter the exercise of the target right altogether.

Clearly, this warning got the justices’ attention. During the argument in the case brought by Texas abortion providers, Justice Brett Kavanaugh posed to Judd Stone, the Texas solicitor general, the prospect that “Second Amendment rights, religion rights, free-speech rights could be targeted by other states” along the same model. “Say everyone who sells an AR-15 is liable for $1 million to any citizen,” Justice Kavanaugh continued. “Would that kind of law be exempt from pre-enforcement review in federal court?”

Mr. Stone answered as the theory of his case demanded. “Whether or not federal court review is available does not depend on the nature of the right,” he said, as he had to do in order not to concede that the purpose of S.B. 8 was to shut down abortion, and abortion alone, in the state of Texas.

Justice Kavanaugh knew this, of course, but he pressed on. “A state passes a law, anyone who declines to provide a good or service for use in a same-sex marriage, a million dollars as sued by anyone in the state — that’s exempt from pre-enforcement review?”

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