Supreme Court again intervenes for Biden administration on ‘ghost guns’

The Supreme Court on Monday intervened a second time so the Biden administration can enforce its regulation on so-called ghost guns after the administration accused lower courts of countermanding the justices’ authority.

In August, the justices revived the regulation nationwide pending the administration’s full appeal.

Newly at issue was whether lower courts ignored that ruling by subsequently preventing the government from enforcing the regulation against two gun manufacturers that are plaintiffs in the case.

In a brief order, the court agreed to vacate the lower ruling, enabling the Biden administration to again enforce the regulation against the manufacturers, Defense Distributed and Black Hawk.

There were no public dissents. The first time the high court intervened, the justices divided 5-4.

The Justice Department in their latest filings lashed out at the lower courts, calling their rulings “extraordinary and unprecedented.” The Supreme Court’s previous intervention made clear the regulation could be fully enforced as the case moves forward, the administration contended.

“The district court and the Fifth Circuit have effectively countermanded this Court’s authoritative determination about the status quo that should prevail during appellate proceedings in this case. In so doing, the lower courts openly relied on arguments that this Court had necessarily rejected to grant relief that this Court had withheld,” the Justice Department wrote in their request.

“The Court should not tolerate that affront to basic principles of vertical stare decisis,” the request continued, referring to the doctrine that judges must follow the decisions handed down by higher courts.

Biden last year announced the crackdown on ghost guns, referring to firearms that are sold as do-it-yourself kits and are generally hard to trace.

The regulation expands federal mandates like serial number, record keeping and background check requirements to ghost guns. But the federal judge in Texas ruled the regulation exceeded the administration’s authority, rejecting their interpretation of a long-standing federal gun law.

The full appeal is still moving ahead in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the administration is hoping to have the regulation upheld on the merits.

Defense Distributed and Black Hawk — the two manufacturers — opposed the administration’s latest application at the Supreme Court and rejected the notion they were circumventing the justices.

“BlackHawk, of course, will abide by any Supreme Court order and takes strong exception to the Government’s suggestion that it would do anything otherwise,” BlackHawk’s attorney wrote in court filings.

“Although BlackHawk recognizes the Government’s role to zealously represent its view as to the public interest, the Government should not disparage the respondent parties, their industry or their counsel in the process, based on an apparent disagreement regarding the underlying public policy issues at stake,” the manufacturer added.

Defense Distributed argued the Justice Department was improperly conflating different legal remedies, saying Biden “cannot make up judicial rulings that this Court did not really render.”

“To wage legal war against ‘ghost guns’ the President has manufactured his very own ghost stay,” the company’s attorney wrote in court filings.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.