Newsom to federal judge: Thanks for declaring my stupid gun-control stunt unconstitutional

AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File

You’re welcome … I guess? As expected, a federal judge struck down an entirely performative gun-control bill passed as a stunt last year. Gavin Newsom cheered on Senate Bill 1327, which allowed standing for any citizen to sue gun manufacturers for the use of their products in crime.


Judge Robert Benitez struck down the law in federal court yesterday, calling it an “abomination.” And Newsom cheered that, too:

A California-based federal judge has blocked the state from enforcing a law permitting private citizens to bring lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

In his opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez deemed the “fee-shifting” provisions of the state’s gun law (Senate Bill 1327) as unconstitutional, characterizing it as an “unprecedented attempt to thwart judicial review.”

“[The law] is cynical. … ‘It is an abomination. It is outrageous and objectionable. There is no dispute that it raises serious constitutional questions,’ ” Benitez wrote, while quoting California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s comments on a similarly structured law in Texas.

In California, according to the Washington Examiner, the gun law would have led to a “private right-of-action for citizens to sue manufacturers for $10,000, the same amount the Texas law provision allows.”

Newsom rushed to declare victory in his fight:

In a statement issued by his office following the gun law ruling, Newsom thanked the judge for declaring the bill he signed into law unconstitutional.

“I want to thank Judge Benitez,” Newsom said in the release. “We have been saying all along that Texas’ anti-abortion law is outrageous. Judge Benitez just confirmed it is also unconstitutional. The provision in California’s law that he struck down is a replica of what Texas did, and his explanation of why this part of SB 1327 unfairly blocks access to the courts applies equally to Texas’ SB 8. There is no longer any doubt that Texas’ cruel anti-abortion law should also be struck down.”

“With today’s ruling, it is hypocritical to let Texas use procedural rules to shield its laws from review and then say that California cannot enact the very same rules in its laws,” his office wrote. “As the Supreme Court has recognized, ‘in the law, what is sauce for the goose is normally sauce for the gander.’”


True, except in this case we have a goose and a salamander. Despite Newsom’s public-relations efforts to equate guns and abortion, they are two separate matters at the most basic level. One gets explicit protection as an enumerated right in the Constitution, and the other doesn’t. Dobbs made that distinction clear — and at the same time negated both Texas’ SB8 as well as Newsom’s dumb stunt law.

Whether Newsom likes or admits it or not, the right to keep and bear arms is explicitly established in the Second Amendment. That is a fully incorporated individual right, as the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled, which means that states cannot contradict it or regulate it to the point of denial of access to exercise of that right. Abortion, however, is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, and does not have the same status. Dobbs recognized this and returned authority to the states to regulate access to abortion, including Texas and California, whose state legislatures take very different approaches to it.

As for the procedural sleight-of-hand on standing, that was a bad idea. It was so bad that copying it in another state was nothing except incredibly stupid. And by the way, Dobbs has mooted that now anyway. Texas can now regulate abortion directly rather than attempt to deputize individual Texans as plaintiffs in civil suits, so SB8 is now dead since abortions can’t take place here anyway. (A court ruling prior to Dobbs stayed it as well.) If the perverse approach to standing is what offends Newsom, as it clearly did Judge Benitez, then Newsom should also be cheering the Supreme Court and its decision to return the abortion issue to the states.


Newsom wants to sell this as a win, but it’s an exposure of his idiocy. He could have been content to simply make the rhetorical argument, as incorrect as it was, as a means to make his political point. Instead he wasted the legislature’s time and the court’s time on a bill that Newsom opposed to score a political point. Newsom doesn’t even have a claim to be using lawfare to set a precedent against the SB8 standing scheme, since that’s already in the appellate courts — and given a preliminary procedural pass by the Supreme Court, for that matter, although that’s all.

Basically, Newsom depantsed himself and the state of California for no good reason, and now wants everyone to applaud his clown-face boxers. Pass.

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