District judge sets bench trial as SCOTUS considers Illinois gun ban challenges

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(The Center Square) – Illinois gun owners continue to await relief from the state’s gun and magazine ban as the U.S. Supreme Court again refrained from announcing whether it would take up the legal challenges

Illinois banned the sale and possession of certain semi-automatic firearms and magazines over certain capacities in January 2023. Federal lawsuits were filed shortly thereafter, including several that were consolidated in the Southern District of Illinois federal court.

On preliminary issues, cases out of the Southern and Northern District federal courts were appealed to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals last year. The appeals court said the state had a likelihood of succeeding on the merits. Several plaintiffs groups then asked for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on those preliminary issues.

Upon those requests for consideration, the U.S. Supreme Court in April put several Illinois challenges into conference with the first possible conference date for a decision being mid-May, but no decision was released.

Justices held a conference Thursday to discuss pending requests for the panel to take various cases. On Monday’s release of the order list, cases challenging Illinois’ gun ban on preliminary grounds were not included, meaning they could come up again in another conference this Thursday with a new order list out June 17.

Meanwhile, in the Southern District of Illinois federal court, attorney Thomas Maag said litigants continue preparation for a bench trial date set for Sept. 16.

“I think the Supreme Court has a good chance of taking it and I think there’s a good chance that if it does, we won’t go to trial in September, although we’ve got to prepare for it as though we are until we know otherwise,” Maag told The Center Square Monday.

Southern District federal Judge Stephen McGlynn has said the “parties are reminded that the Court intends for this matter to be resolved on an expedited basis.”

In announcing deadlines for amended pleadings, rebuttals, expert disclosures and fact discovery, McGlynn issued a scheduling order with a bench trial date set for Sept. 16. Maag said it’s unclear how any action from the U.S. Supreme Court could impact that trial.

“If the Supreme Court does not take it, which of course is a possibility, then I’d say the odds of us going to trial mid-September is right at about 99.9%,” he said.

But, if the justices do take the cases, Maag said it’s possible the Southern District could hold off on a bench trial or continue toward final action on the merits in the district court regardless.

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