Angered by the United States Supreme Court’s decision to keep allowing private persons to sue Texas abortion providers, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for a similar bill providing ordinary citizens legal standing to challenge suppliers of prohibited guns on Saturday.
“The Supreme Court is allowing individual persons in Texas to sue to prevent abortion?” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, took to Twitter to express his displeasure. “If that’s the case, then Californians will be able to sue people who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets.” CA may prohibit lethal weapons of war and save lives if TX can outlaw abortion and harm lives.”
Mr. Newsom’s reaction seemed to contradict his prior condemnation of the Texas bill, which he had portrayed as a cynical effort to undermine federal rights.
Mr. Newsom said in a statement released Saturday evening that he had directed his staff to work with the California Legislature and attorney general to draft legislation that would allow citizens to sue anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in the state. The governor demanded a minimum of $10,000 in damages for each infraction, plus expenses and attorney’s fees.
“If adding the possibility of private litigation is the most effective way to keep these lethal weapons off our streets, we should do so,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.
In the bitter struggles over abortion rights and gun regulation, the governor’s reaction seemed to deliberately pit California against Texas — and to position him personally on a national front in the culture wars.
SCOTUS is letting private citizens in Texas sue to stop abortion?!
If that’s the precedent then we’ll let Californians sue those who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets.
If TX can ban abortion and endanger lives, CA can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives. https://t.co/N5Iur9PEUZ
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) December 12, 2021
Mr. Newsom was just three months ago embroiled in a brutal Republican-led recall campaign, which he handily defeated. The governor has increased his national prominence now that his re-election chances seem to be improving. He’s been on a national book tour to promote a dyslexia children’s book he wrote, which is a lifetime issue. Mr. Newsom openly offered support to states like Kentucky, sending specialist urban search and rescue capabilities as tornadoes ripped across the Southeast, wreaking havoc.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday to uphold Texas‘ ban on most abortions, the governor promised to utilize California courts to combat gun violence. The legislation empowers ordinary persons to sue anybody who “assists or abets” an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is discovered. This happens approximately six weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, and it frequently happens before she realizes she’s pregnant.
Supporters of abortion rights have chastised Texas for writing its abortion ban in such a way that it avoids federal court scrutiny, where it may be overturned. Ordinary persons, even those outside of Texas, are essentially deputized to sue clinics and anyone who violates the law, with a minimum compensation of $10,000 per illegal abortion if they are successful.
The Supreme Court held that abortion clinics might sue the state’s licensing authority to stop the new legislation, but not state court judges, court clerks, or the state attorney general, in a 5-4 ruling headed by the conservative majority. Otherwise, the court upheld the legislation, which has been in place since September.
California political leaders have said that if the Supreme Court decides to overturn Roe v. Wade, they will endeavor to make the state a safe haven for women in areas of the nation where abortion may be prohibited. Mr. Newsom’s statement seemed to confirm predictions that if the Supreme Court upheld Texas’ legal method, liberal-leaning states would employ the same technique to curtail conservative privileges like gun ownership.
“If states can now insulate their laws from federal judges that equate assault rifles to Swiss Army knives,” the governor added, “then California will utilize that power to defend people’s lives, while Texas used it to put women in danger.”
The remark was a jab at a federal judge’s decision earlier this year to remove California’s three-decade-old assault weapons prohibition, equating the powerful weapons, which are regularly used in mass shootings, to military pocketknives.
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