Legislation

SCOTUS rules this week on gun, religious tuition, voter ID – what they mean for Vermont

By Guy Page

A trio of high-profile U.S. Supreme Court decisions this week have Vermonters wondering what they will mean for Vermont. 

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may not forbid government-funded tuition to schools offering religious instruction. 

Today, SCOTUS struck down New York’s handgun carry law and upheld North Carolina’s right to require voter ID.

What do these decisions mean for Vermont?

Today’s voter ID decision would only affect Vermont if it had a similar law. It doesn’t – both the Secretary of State and the Vermont Legislature have firmly resisted any suggestions to require voter identification. 

The religious school tuition decision overturns a Maine law limiting tuition payments for students with no hometown high school to secular schools. In response to a Supreme Court decision granting tuition to religious schools under some circumstances, the Vermont Senate last year passed S219, a bill with restrictions similar to the Maine law. 

S219, sponsored by Senate Education Chair Brian Campion (D-Bennington), “would not use public tuition to support religious instruction, religious indoctrination, religious worship, or the propagation of religious views.” The bill passed the Senate but session expired before the House could take action. It would have likely been resubmitted in 2023, but this week’s Supreme Court decision suggests a change in plans.

What’s not clear yet is whether parents in non-tuition sending towns would be eligible to access public tuition to send children to religious schools.

According to today’s SCOTUS decision on U.S. Rifle & Pistol Association Vs. Bruen, the NY state law “makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home. An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to ‘have and carry’ a concealed ‘pistol or revolver’ if he can prove that “proper cause exists” for doing so.”

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said the court holds that “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home….Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”

Thomas differentiated between the many “shall issue” states where the burden of proof is on the state to deny a carry permit, and the six “may issue” states (NY included) where the burden is on the gun owner to proove his/her suitability and purpose to carry in public. 

In Vermont, no permits are needed to carry a legal firearm in public. However, the Legislature this year made hospitals a “no-carry” zone; carrying a gun on hospital grounds is now a violation of state law. Furthermore, Sen. Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden) has promised to introduce more “gun safety” legislation. He hasn’t been more specific. The SCOTUS decision virtually guarantees that a “may issue” firearms carry permit bill won’t be on his list. 

Categories: Legislation

10 replies »

  1. There has to be more to this decision. As a Vermonter, do I have to check my constitutional rights at the border of another state? My self-protection is just as important to me when I travel, and the 2nd amendment should be valid wherever I go. Vermont does not provide a firearms ID or permit to be honored by other states like driver’s licenses. If I am a legal, law-abiding citizen how does NY or NJ have a right to deny my constitutional rights while in their state? It is not feasible to obtain a permit from each state in the country to be able to travel. We will have to see what the full decision says before we speculate. However, this is a big win for the people. Justice Thomas finally declared that the 2nd Amendment is not a second class amendment and will be treated like the others in the Bill of Rights.

    • Excellent points and questions. We should not have to check our Constitutional right to self-protection at the border of any state.

  2. Dano–I’ve driven X-Country 10+ times & been pulled over (speed traps) many times also & as long as you make NO “furitive movements”, shave, have a haircut before you travel, & be polite to the nice officer you will NEVER get hassled much leas searched & I’ve ALWAYS had a pistol right under the seat…THAT said I’ve “tolerated” the SCOTUS making (liberal) laws all my life that the elected branch would NEVER get passed & NOW we have “literalists” who FOLLOW the CONSTITUTION as WRITTEN? Oh the HORROR! Remember Bernard Goetz who shot subway thugs & WHAT happened to him? A JURY of his PEERS acquitted him yet most folks never heard the outcome. If ALL the liberal “prosecutors” keep allowing VIOLENT ex-cons to prowl the streets & prey on the public the public has the RIGHT to KEEP and BEAR arms, “it shall NOT be infringed”, period, full stop..If these rancid, reportedly human beasts never know WHO’s packing & WILL defend lives & property then maybe the “equalizers” will dissuade them from taking that chance. Dead violent criminals are guaranteed to NEVER “re-offend”, ever. “Better judged by 12 than carried by 6” indeed.

    • Steve, I understand what you are saying and practice likewise. I was putting that out there to make a point. We shouldn’t have to worry about being arrested while on the road. I took road trips with my family to Florida and South Carolina numerous times and was always armed. The way I see it is, if convicted felons can carry illegal guns why shouldn’t I be able to carry my legal guns? This is why the reciprocity issue needs to be addressed. Traveling through NYC or NJ late at night is when the nightcrawlers come out and the demons who work their trade at night. A man with a family should have the means to protect them. Cars fail and break down and sometimes in the wrong places. Now we are seeing violent crimes committed in broad daylight. I think this court decision says the same thing. None of these liberal police states should be able to arrest a person for exercising their God given right of self-defense as defined in the second amendment. The liberals are already whining about how wrong this is while their states lead the nation in violent shootings on a nightly scale. This is a great win for the people. And now we need reciprocity throughout the country. 25 states have constitution carry and more coming.

    • Steve, I 100% agree with you… what if the officer asks if you have a weapon? Where does the conversation go from there? Just asking.

  3. So, NY asks a resident to prove danger exists, when they go out in public for a permit to carry a pistol. Would that be considered an oxymoron? …………. Regarding paying tuition to religious (or private) schools with taxpayers’ choice; Educators are scared to death, that so many families would make the choice, that liberal progressives would lose the opportunity to indoctrinate all ages of our children. Vermont has already found that a large portion of the student population has decided that our public education system is questionable. (and very expensive)

  4. When I was a child public public money assisted parochial schools. This helped to relieve a burden from public schools. There was not a conflict with the Bill of Rights.

  5. It is time for voter ID!! Why is Secretary of State and the governor against ID? We need IDs for many things. I smell some corruption in our state!

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