provision of the Brady Act
required chief law enforcement officers of State and local governments to
perform handgun buyer background checks on an interim basis until the
national background check system was developed.
sheriffs separately sued to stop the provision from being enforced.
had argued that the law was constitutional based on the Necessary and
Proper Clause of Article I.
Trial Courts found that the provision in question was unconstitutional but
could be severed from the rest of the Act.
Courts found that the rest of the Act, which had voluntary standards for compliance was perfectly fine.
Federal Appellate Court reversed the decisions, saying that none of the
Act's provisions were unconstitutional.The sheriffs appealed.
US Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court and found the provision
US Supreme Court held that Congress cannot compel State Executive Branch
officials to administer a Federal regulatory program.
this case to New York v. United States (505 U.S. 144 (1992)), in which it was held that the Federal government could not
constitutionally compel a State's Legislative Branch.Are they distinguishable?
The Court based their decision on the principle that State legislatures
are not subject to Federal direction. The Court explained that while
Congress may require the Federal government to regulate commerce
directly, in this case by performing background-checks on applicants for
handgun ownership, the Necessary and Proper Clausedoes not empower it to compel State
officials to fulfill its Federal tasks for it, even temporarily.
dissent, it was argued that the Interstate Commerce Clause gave the Federal government the right to
regulate handgun sales.This
could be coupled with the Necessary and Proper Clause, giving Congress the power to pass whatever
laws are necessary and proper to carry out its previously enumerated
in the thousands of checks that were done, about 70% of the licenses were denied because the buyer
was a convicted felon!