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US Supreme Court deals setback to gun control advocates on felon ban

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to gun control advocates by opening the door for some convicted felons to challenge a federal ban on them owning firearms.

The justices let stand a lower court’s ruling that uniformly denying felons whose crimes were not serious the right to own guns violated the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which protects the right to “keep and bear arms.”

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The case involved two Pennsylvania men who were convicted of non-violent crimes who challenged the ban. The Trump administration had appealed last year’s ruling by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, calling it a threat to public safety.

The 3rd Circuit ruling does not set a nationwide legal precedent.

Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have granted the appeal to hear the case.

The Pennsylvania men who challenged the ban, Julio Suarez of Gettysburg and Daniel Binderup of Manheim, both were convicted of non-violent misdemeanors, but the crimes carried maximum possible sentences of more than two years, falling within the definition of felony in the federal gun ban. Neither Suarez nor Binderup served jail time.

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Binderup, who owns a plumbing business, pleaded guilty in 1998 of corrupting a minor after having a sexual affair with a 17-year-old female employee. Binderup was sentenced to three years of probation.

Suarez was convicted in Maryland in 1990 of carrying a gun without a permit. Suarez was given a suspended jail sentence and a year of probation.

Federal law generally prohibits firearm possession by individuals convicted of a crime punishable by a year or more in jail, the traditional definition of a felony. However, the law does not apply to offenses labeled as misdemeanors under state law that carry jail time of two years or less.

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In 2013 and 2014, the men separately sued to escape the felon gun-possession prohibition. Emphasizing their non-violent offenses and light sentences, they argued the law violates their right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in an 8-7 decision, held that people may challenge the ban depending on their particular criminal conviction, and found that it was unconstitutional as applied to the two men.

Trump has strongly embraced the National Rifle Association but his administration in this case was on the same side as gun rights advocates including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

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The administration said in court papers the appeals court ruling would force judges to make case-by-case assessments of the risks possession by convicted felons, a job for which they are ill-suited. The administration added that too many felons whose gun ownership rights were restored for various reasons have gone on to commit violent crimes.

The Brady Center noted that the prohibition has been on the books in its current form since 1968, when Congress determined that the acquisition of firearms by people convicted of serious crimes posed a danger to public safety and to public figures.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Chinese news site run in US hired Republican strategist to help them get in good with Trump and his supporters

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NBC News broke a huge story that detailed the way that the Chinese news website The Epoch Times has turned from their conservative conspiracy theories to promoting President Donald Trump and running ads for him on Facebook. But the reporter revealed in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Tuesday, that the site recently decided to begin running its own political operation.

She described the site like a kind of troll farm where the young "reporters" they hired are forced to churn out many articles each day. They've always been a conservative site that opposes things like homosexuality and pop music, but now they're hoping to capitalize on evangelicals.

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WATCH: Spike Lee tears into Trump for empowering white supremacy

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On Tuesday, director Spike Lee talked with CNN's Anderson Cooper about race, slavery, and President Donald Trump — and pulled no punches on any of it.

"I think that most woke historians would say that this country, the United States of America, was built upon the genocide of people and slavery. I mean, that's a fact," said Lee. "And I think that if we Americans came to study how this country started, we wouldn't be talking about kick immigrants out, you know, because if it wasn't — I mean, Native Americans, people brought here as slaves, everyone was immigrants. I woke up this morning and went on Instagram and felt my ancestors, not the only one saying this but I think it's a very important date today in American history."

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Trump’s ‘indefensible’ comments just made it ‘much much harder’ for GOP to win in 2020: Ex-RNC Chair

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President Donald Trump's latest anti-Semitic trope is going to make it "much much harder" for Republicans to hold control of the White House in 2020, the former chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) explained on MSNBC on Tuesday.

Michael Steele was interviewed by MSNBC's Chris Matthews on "Hardball."

"There’s a long-respected leader of what's called Jewish Republicans, Matt Brooks -- I've known him for a long time -- this guy has the job of helping get votes, Republican votes, in the community, which generally votes Democrats," Matthews noted. "What is he going to deal with this baby, this assault on religious identity and trying to claim you must vote your group?"

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