On C-SPAN Radio’ s historic Supreme Court Oral Argument this week: “County Sheriffs Jay Printz and Richard Mack, petitioners v. United States, respondent.” This 1997 case is about Congressional authority and the Tenth Amendment, cited by many of the current state challenges to the health care law.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention act (or Brady Bill) required "local chief law enforcement officers" (CLEOS) to perform background-checks on prospective handgun purchasers, until such time as the Attorney General established a federal system for this purpose. Ravelli County, Montana Sheriff Jay Printz and Graham County, Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, separately challenged the constitutionality of this interim provision of the Brady Bill on behalf of CLEOS in Montana and Arizona respectively. In both cases, District courts found the background-checks unconstitutional, but ruled that since this requirement was severable from the rest of the Brady Bill, a voluntary background-check system could remain. On appeal from the Ninth Circuit's ruling that the interim background-check provisions were constitutional, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear and consolidate the two cases.