This appeal involves the Full Faith and Credit Clause and firearm rights. The petitioner was convicted of felony drug offenses in Georgia. The State of Georgia granted the petitioner a full pardon for his crimes; his Georgia pardon expressly restored his right to possess a firearm.
The petitioner now resides in Tennessee. A Tennessee statute provides that it is a felony for a person who has been convicted of a felony drug offense to possess a firearm, and it does not make an exception for persons who have been pardoned for their crime. The petitioner filed this declaratory judgment action against the State of Tennessee, seeking a declaration that, because he received a pardon for his drug offenses in Georgia, he can purchase or possess a firearm in Tennessee without violating the Tennessee statute.
The trial court held in favor of the petitioner, concluding that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution requires Tennessee to recognize Georgia’s pardon in full and to permit the petitioner to carry a firearm in Tennessee. The State of Tennessee now appeals.
On appeal, we consider the public-policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. We hold that Tennessee’s public policy on the restoration of firearm rights for a convicted non-violent drug felon is not entirely inconsistent with Georgia’s public policy, so the public-policy exception to full faith and credit is not applicable in that situation. However, Tennessee public policy proscribes the restoration of firearm rights for a convicted violent drug felon, contrary to Georgia’s public policy allowing the restoration of firearm rights for all felons, violent or not. This Tennessee policy implicates public safety so as to warrant application of the public-policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause under the appropriate circumstances....
As one of Volokh’s commenters pointed out, this case rather directly implicates the recognition in traditional marriage states of gay marriages procured in other states. I don’t want to seem naive here: our lawless judiciary will reason on gun control and gay marriage as necessary to get what it wants on gun control and gay marriage. That said, it’s pretty obvious that traditional marriage states have public policy exceptions to gay marriage, and their option to preserve marriage against other states is specifically granted in what remains of DOMA.