By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
February 6, 2017 – 2:53 PM

Whenever the U.S. Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch – or some other Donald Trump nominee – to the U.S. Supreme Court, it will face a plethora of issues, and those involving California will be among the most controversial.

Obviously, the legal battles over refugees and immigration loom large for California, a prominent destination of choice for those seeking economic opportunity or refuge from war.

So does an Illinois case, replacing one from California that was stalled by the death of Antonin Scalia a year ago. It could undermine public employee unions’ immense political influence by making union dues voluntary.

The court was clearly poised, albeit by a 5-4 margin, to overturn mandatory dues laws in California and other states when Scalia died unexpectedly. The California case fell by the wayside on the remaining 4-4 tie.

It’s likely, too, that once a new justice is seated, groups of California gun owners will try to overturn new regulations on guns and ammunition that the Legislature and voters adopted last year.

In the past, the court has tended to favor gun owners and their rights under the Constitution’s Second Amendment, declaring that while regulation is not prohibited, it must not unduly burden the law-abiding.

California already had the nation’s strictest firearms laws before the Legislature added some new restrictions, followed by passage of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ballot measure, Proposition 63.

The uniqueness of the state’s gun regulations makes them ripe for legal challenge before a court that will tilt somewhat to the right once Trump’s nominee is seated.

Last week, another California case emerged, challenging the state Supreme Court’s declaration last year that the state could regulate gold mining on streams flowing through federal land, despite federal law allowing mining on those lands.

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