Louisiana: Constitutional amendment up for committee debate would require courts use “strict scrutiny” when it comes to firearms cases

Those familiar with U.S. Supreme Court decisions will find the phrase “strict scrutiny” familiar. In short, strict scrutiny requires the court to examine any law or governmental act and determine

  • it meets a compelling governmental interest
  • it is narrowly tailored to achieve that goal or interest, and
  • it is the least restrictive means for achieving that interest

The concept and language is one derived and devised by the courts: a review of existing state statutes and constitutions finds the phrase seems to appear in only 3 places*:

  • Florida Stat. § 163.3215 (Regarding land use, “The standard of review applied by the special master in determining whether a proposed development order is consistent with the comprehensive plan shall be strict scrutiny in accordance with Florida law.”)
  • Louisiana R.S. 12:130.1 (Regarding shareholder’s rights, “Any transaction that is executed during the safeguard period which involves the assets of a safeguarded entity shall be subject to judicial review under the standard of strict scrutiny.”)
  • New Hampshire RSA 676:4 (“Jurisdiction of the courts to review procedural aspects of planning board decisions and actions shall be limited to consideration of compliance with applicable provisions of the constitution, statutes and regulations. The procedural requirements specified in this section are intended to provide fair and reasonable treatment for all parties and persons. The planning board’s procedures shall not be subjected to strict scrutiny for technical compliance.”)

*Update 4/2/12 5:56 – While “strict scrutiny” appears only in 3 statutes, a reader notes that the concept exists in various state laws. My point with the above was to note the lack of usage of the phrase. I’ve bolded to make my point clearer.

Louisiana may, however, add a fourth reference to strict scrutiny if its voters approve SB 303, a constitutional amendment which would modify the state’s version of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The provision currently reads:

§11. Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Section 11. The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.

SB 303 would change it to:

§11. Right to Acquire, Keep, Possess, Transport, Carry, Transfer, and Bear Arms

Section 11. The right of each citizen to acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms for defense of life and liberty, and for all other legitimate purposes is fundamental and shall not be denied or infringed, and any restriction shall be subject to strict scrutiny.

The amendment is set for a hearing tomorrow (April 3) before Louisiana Senate’s Judiciary C Committee.

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