Trump Taps Kavanaugh Ally for Seat on Influential Appeals Court.

Justin Walker, 37, who has served as a federal district court judge in Kentucky since October, would replace Republican appointee Judge Thomas Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit if approved by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. Griffith, appointed by former President George W. Bush, had previously announced his plans to retire.

On 2 April, 2020, a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in the Duncan v. Becerra case. The District Court Judge, Roger T. Benitez, had ruled that the outright ban of magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds violated the Second Amendment.

In the background noise, things 2nd amendment are still ongoing.


Illinois Supreme Court remands White County case that found FOID card unconstitutional

(The Center Square) – It’s back to the circuit court with an Illinois Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Firearm Owners Identification card.

In 2017, Vivian Brown, an elderly resident of White County, was charged with violating the FOID card law when she had a rifle in her home without possessing a FOID card. Her attorneys said that violates the Second Amendment, arguing “the second amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and that this right is at its ‘most acute’ in the home.”

In February 2018, the White County Circuit Court sided with Brown and found the FOID card law unconstitutional when applied to her case. The state appealed directly to the Illinois Supreme Court a few months later.

The Illinois Supreme Court released its split ruling on Thursday. The majority opinion didn’t make a decision on the constitutionality of the law in Brown’s case, but instead cited a court rule calling into question the process the circuit court used.

“We must, therefore, vacate the court’s finding of unconstitutionality and remand the cause to the circuit court to enter a modified judgment order that excludes that finding,” said the majority opinion penned by Chief Justice Anne Burke. She was joined by Justices Thomas Killbride, Rita Garman and P. Scott Neville.

Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said the state’s high court punted.

“What they did was they decided that they didn’t want to decide, so they sent it back to the circuit court,” Pearson said.

He said he expected the case to end up back at the Illinois Supreme Court.

The dissenting justices called the majority opinion “pointless.”

“Neither the parties nor the interests of justice will be served by this unexpected and pointless exercise,” Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in a dissenting opinion. He was joined in his dissent by Justice Mary Jane Theis. “Remand to the circuit court to enter a new order dismissing the case on statutory rather than constitutional grounds is a meaningless and wasteful act.”

Federal Firearms Licensees of Illinois Executive Director Todd Vandermyde also said the state’s high court didn’t make a decision.

“They didn’t make a finding one way or the other,” Vandermyde said. “And as I read this I think the FOID card act is on life support. I think they went out of the way to not address the constitutional issues raised in this case.”

N.J. POLICE TEST POSITIVE, QUARANTINED; ‘WHY WE SUED TO OPEN GUN STORES’: SAF

BELLEVUE, WA — Published reports that some 700 New Jersey police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus and are quarantined underscores the importance of the Second Amendment Foundation’s lawsuit to require the state to open gun stores, the group said today.

“This is exactly why the Foundation lawsuit to force New Jersey to re-open gun stores during this emergency is so important,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “People need to be able to obtain the means of self-defense in times such as these. This is why the right to keep and bear arms is essential.”

The revelation by acting State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan came Saturday during a daily press briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This stunning report should surprise nobody,” Gottlieb said, “because police interact daily with scores, if not hundreds of people. It would defy odds if none became infected, and assurances by the authorities that they still have the manpower to respond to emergencies don’t mean much to people when crimes are happening right now and police are several minutes, or longer, away.

“Gov. Phil Murphy needs to understand the Second Amendment wasn’t written for duck hunters,” he observed. “The right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution to assure every citizen has the means to defend himself or herself when help may not arrive in time, or maybe not arrive at all.

“We’re praying for the quick recovery of all those stricken Garden State police officers,” Gottlieb said, “and hoping for the safety and good health of all men and women in law enforcement. But in the meantime, we will press our lawsuit to assure that all citizens can defend themselves and their families during this time of crisis.

“Phil Murphy has around-the-clock protection,” Gottlieb noted, “but average citizens do not enjoy that luxury. The governor needs to lift his closure order now, and we will press our lawsuit to make sure he does.”

NRA and 3 other gun groups suing L.A. County Sheriff Villanueva over shutting down firearms dealers

Four gun-owners rights organizations on Friday sued Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva over his repeated attempts this week to shut down firearms dealers, contending that his actions violate citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms.

“Shuttering access to arms necessarily shutters the Constitutional right to those arms,” says the federal lawsuit filed by the Second Amendment Foundation, National Rifle Association of America, California Gun Rights Foundation, and Firearms Policy Coalition on behalf of individual gun buyers and a Los Angeles firearm and ammunition retailer.

Meanwhile, libertarian economist and actor Ben Stein sued Gov. Gavin Newsom, challenging whether California’s unprecedented restrictions on social movement can actually be enforced.

Gun-owner rights organizations have asked the federal government to end the debate nationwide over whether gun shops can remain open despite growing stay-at-home orders aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus. They want the U.S. government to specifically add them to official lists of essential services.

They say the Los Angeles lawsuit is the first in California to challenge forced closures. It could end a patchwork of such decisions that has Villanueva ordering them closed to the public in the nation’s most populous county, while other California sheriffs declare them to be vital.

Villanueva’s office did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment.

The sheriff first ordered a total shutdown on Tuesday, saying long lines from panic buyers risked spreading the coronavirus. The disease causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

He again on Thursday ordered the stores closed to the public, challenging the county legal counsel’s finding that the stores are essential businesses that should remain open. However, his second order said the stores may still supply security guard companies, and anyone who already has purchased a gun and possesses a valid safety certificate can pick up their firearms.

Those exceptions aren’t good enough, the lawsuit says, because gun stores provide “the only lawful means to buy, sell, and transfer firearms and ammunition available to typical, law-abiding Californians.”

It also argues the shutdown violates the constitutional right to due process, and says even those who can pick up their previously purchased firearms now can’t buy the ammunition they need to go with them.

Meanwhile, Stein’s lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court asks that a judge clarify the rights that citizens have under Newsom’s executive order, which it notes has not been enacted into law by state legislators nor by voters at the ballot box.

His requirement that residents stay home except for essential errands “approximates the house arrest of 39.5 million healthy and uninfected California citizens,” says the lawsuit filed by the actor perhaps best known for his dry, monotone delivery in the 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

“Ben respects the governor and he respects people doing social distancing and good health hygiene. But what he has an issue with is that the governor’s order appears to be dictatorial,” said prominent right-wing attorney Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch who sued on Stein’s behalf.

He argued that Newsom’s order, while laudable as a recommendation, “cannot be enforced.”

Newsom administration officials did not respond to requests for comment. It’s unclear when or if the suit might be considered, because most court functions have been shut down due to the coronavirus.

So far, officials generally deny that they are conducting stops or making arrests if someone doesn’t comply.

But Stein, who lives in Beverly Hills, said in the lawsuit and on Klayman’s radio show Friday that a friend who is a pastor has been threatened with arrest if he holds religious services even for fewer than 10 people.

“This is outrageous, this is a police state, and it’s an interference with freedom of religion, it’s an interference with freedom of assembly,” Stein said on the show. “It’s what I call a soft police state.”

SAF SUES N.J. GOVERNOR FOR DEPRIVATION OF RIGHTS

BELLEVUE, WA – In a move directly linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit against New Jersey Gov. Philip D. Murphy and State Police Supt. Patrick J. Callahan, asserting violation of civil rights under color of law by shutting down firearms dealerships in the Garden State, thus preventing citizens from exercising their rights under the Second and Fourteenth amendments.

Murphy and Callahan are being sued in their official capacities. The case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the State of New Jersey is known as Kashinsky v. Murphy.

Joining SAF in this action is the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, on behalf of Robert Kashinsky and Legend Firearms, a gun shop in the state. They are represented by noted civil rights attorney David Jensen.

Kashinsky sought to purchase a firearm for personal protection during the current crisis, but Murphy issued Executive Order 107 on March 21, which ordered all non-essential retail businesses closed to the public. The order does not include licensed firearms dealers on its list of “essential” businesses that may continue operating during the crisis.

“In order for New Jersey residents to purchase firearms,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “they must go through a licensed firearms retailer and pass a background check. However, Murphy’s order was subsequently followed by a notice posted on the State Police website that the agency is no longer conducting background checks.

“Gov. Murphy cannot simply suspend the Second Amendment, and neither can Supt. Callahan,” he continued. “Yet, under this emergency order, that’s exactly what they’re doing. The Constitution, and federal law, don’t allow that. New Jersey may have been the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights, but they’re the last state to recognize it.”

The lawsuit seeks an injunction restraining the defendants and everyone acting on their behalf from enforcing Executive Order 107 “to the extent it operates to flatly prohibit the purchase and sale of firearms and ammunition.”

Just one more confirmation. If you don’t own a gun now, you may not have time, or the opportunity, to buy one if the need arises. And depending on the charity of others can be disappointing.


Divided PA Supreme Court: Governor can shut down firearms dealers during Coronavirus emergency
Dissent for three Justices: “This amounts to an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this Commonwealth—a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment…”

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued an order that closed all “non-life-sustaining businesses.” That order required licensed firearms dealers to shut down. In contrast, the Governor of Illinois defined firearm suppliers “for purposes of safety and security” as “Essential Businesses” that can remain open

The Civil Rights Defense Firm filed an emergency application for extraordinary relief on behalf of a firearm dealer in Pennsylvania, as well as a Pennsylvanian who seeks to purchase a firearm. They argued, among other claims, that the Governor’s order violates the Second Amendment. The Governor filed an answer, and the City of Philadelphia field an amicus brief.

Sunday evening, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied the Second Amendment claim with a one-sentence order:

In all other respects, the Application is DENIED.

Justice Wecht dissented from this order, joined by Justices Donohue and Dougherty. (Please keep Justice Wecht in your prayers; his son has tested positive for COVID-19.) Justice Wecht explained that the order results in a complete prohibition of the right to sell firearms during this emergency:

I write separately because the present Application for Emergency Relief brings to the Court’s attention a deprivation of a constitutional right. The Governor’s Order of March 20, 2020, the “Order of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Regarding the Closure of All Businesses That Are Not Life Sustaining” (the “Order”), makes no allowance for any continued operation of licensed firearm dealers. In light of the regulatory framework attending the sale and transfer of firearms, the inability of licensed firearm dealers to conduct any physical operations amounts to a complete prohibition upon the retail sale of firearms—an activity in which the citizens of this Commonwealth recently have been engaging on a large scale, and one guaranteed by both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of this Commonwealth.

Justice Wecht explains that under current law, the only way to transfer a firearm is in a physical premise. But the Governor’s order shuts down those businesses.

Unlike the vast majority of other items, the sale and transfer of firearms sold at retail cannot be completed merely by way of telecommunication and mailing under existing law. Under federal firearm laws, a licensed firearm dealer may transfer a firearm to a purchaser who does not appear in person at the licensed premises only when a background check is not required to transfer the firearm, and both the dealer and the purchaser reside in the same state.  In Pennsylvania, a licensed firearm dealer must perform a background check in conjunction with the retail sale of any firearm.  Moreover, the Uniform Firearms Act provides that the “business” of a licensed firearm dealer “shall be carried on only upon the premises designated in the license or at a lawful gun show or meet.” Id. § 6113(a)(1).

Justice Wecht cites Bateman v. Perdue (E.D.N.C. 2012). This case declared unconstitutional a state law that authorized the government to prohibit the sale of firearms during an emergency.

The effect of this regulatory scheme is that, notwithstanding any payment, the actual transfer of a firearm from a dealer to a purchaser must be completed at the dealer’s place of business. Quite simply, if firearm dealers are not able to conduct any business in-person at their licensed premises, then no transfers of firearms can be completed. This amounts to an absolute and indefinite prohibition upon the acquisition of firearms by the citizens of this Commonwealth—a result in clear tension with the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution. See generally District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008); see also Bateman v. Perdue, 881 F.Supp.2d 709 (E.D.N.C. 2012) (applying Heller to hold unconstitutional a statute authorizing government officials to prohibit the sale of firearms during state of emergency); id. at 714 (noting that statute “effectively prohibit[s] law abiding citizens from purchasing and transporting to their homes firearms and ammunition needed for selfdefense” thus “burden[ing] conduct protected by the Second Amendment”).

Justice Wecht closes with a very pragmatic solution: allow some reasonable manner for the people to exercise their rights. Let gun dealers follow the same hygiene standards as other essential businesses that can remain open. For example, gun dealers must remain six feet apart from gun buyers. The gun must be wiped down with a Lysol wipe. Etc. There are ways of managing these transactions responsibly. And the existence of a constitutional right requires some form of narrow tailoring.

In my view, it is incumbent upon the Governor to make some manner of allowance for our citizens to continue to exercise this constitutional right. This need not necessarily take the form of a generalized exception to the Order for any and all firearm retailers, although such retailers have been classified as “essential” elsewhere in our Nation.2 To the contrary, just as the Governor has permitted restaurants to offer take-out service but restricted dine-in options, the Governor may limit the patronage of firearm retailers to the completion of the portions of a transfer that must be conducted in-person. Such an accommodation may be effectuated while preserving sensible restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, but nonetheless provide a legal avenue for the purchase and sale of firearms, thus avoiding an impermissible intrusion upon a fundamental constitutional right.

If people can enter a McDonalds to pick up a Big Mac, then people should be able to enter a firearm store, complete the requisite background check process, and get their firearm.

This case may be headed to the United States Supreme Court. As a general matter, emergency applications for stays are rarely granted. But this application may be well timed. Last term, the Supreme Court granted its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade: New York State Rifle & Pistol Club Association v. New York. However, New York took deliberate acts to moot the controversy. I had expected the Court to quickly dump the case on mootness grounds, but they did not take that step. I suspect now the Justices are wrangling over the finer points of mootness doctrine. The Pennsylvania case may provide the Court with a straightforward opportunity to issue a narrow per curiam ruling on the Second Amendment.

The judgment could follow Justice Wecht’s dissent: at a minimum, licensed firearm dealers should be treated like other “essential” businesses in the state, and can remain open during the emergency. I’m sure the gun dealers will comply with whatever social distancing rules apply to other businesses. Moreover, the Plaintiffs in this case are law-abiding gun dealers and gun buyers. They will comply with all relevant regulations. Such a narrow ruling could go a long way to reaffirming that the Second Amendment is not a second-class right that can be shooed away with the stroke of a Governor’s pen.

I’ll close with a policy argument. Our society is veering towards uncharted waters. At some point, I worry that civil unrest will spread. And I am not confident that first responders will be able to handle violence, looting, and other forms of crime. Indeed, the very act of arresting a person requires physical contact with a person who may be symptomatic. Business in PhiladelphiaChicago, and across the country are already boarding up their windows. The right to bear arms for defense is especially important in such times of conflict. You may dial 9-11, and the response is, “sorry, we can’t help right now.” At that point, Governor Wolf’s executive order will not provide any protection. A functional firearm will be far more useful than a pallet of toilet paper.

New Jersey Supreme Court Grants Hearings to People Who’ve Had Their Rights Denied

The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled January 28 that concealed-carry permit applicants must be provided hearings within 30 days whenever an applicant is denied a permit. The state’s highest court overturned a decision from both a county superior court and an appellate court.

“If the police chief or superintendent denies the application [for a handgun carry permit], the applicant may request a hearing,” wrote Justice Fernandez-Vina, and that “hearing shall be held within 30 days of the filing of the request.”

The state’s high court agreed to hear the case upon receiving a petition from a security guard whose application to carry a concealed handgun was denied by lower courts—a person who wasn’t even given a hearing.

Years earlier, in October 2016, the security guard applied for a permit to carry concealed in his professional capacity. His application included character references and certificates showing his completion of multiple firearms-training courses. His application was initially approved by the Roselle Park police chief, but later denied on February 2, 2017 by a judge and without a hearing.

The judge ruled that the security guard “failed to demonstrate that he has ‘a justifiable need to carry a handgun.’” The denied applicant appealed for a hearing unsuccessfully to the Appellate Division before petitioning the state’s highest court to hear the case, which agreed to do so on March 21, 2019.

New Jersey is one of eight “may-issue” states in the country—meaning local government authorities can deny a person their constitutional right to keep and bear arms for any reason they deem appropriate. Currently, concealed carry is only available in the state to those who acquire a New Jersey Permit to Carry a Handgun, issued at the discretion of a municipality’s chief of police or the superintendent of New Jersey State Police.

According to New Jersey Admin. Code 13:54, applicants must be “a person of good character,” who have demonstrated that “at the time of application for the permit he or she is thoroughly familiar with the safe handling and use of handguns; and [h]as demonstrated a justifiable need to carry a handgun.”

Furthermore, a private citizens must “detail the urgent necessity for self-protection, as evidenced by specific threats or previous attacks which demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life that cannot be avoided by means other than by issuance of a permit to carry a handgun,” in order to apply for a permit to carry a handgun.

As for employees of “private detective agencies, armored car companies and private security companies,” applicants who fall into this category must prove that, “[i]n the course of performing statutorily authorized duties, the applicant is subject to a substantial threat of serious bodily harm; and [t]hat carrying a handgun by the applicant is necessary to reduce the threat of unjustifiable serious bodily harm to any person.”

“Laws establishing a ‘may-issue’ standard for the acquisition of permits to carry firearms are anathema to the concept of the fundament right to self-defense. Such schemes fail to set clear standards for the issuance or denial of permits. Inevitably, they allow for arbitrary decisions made by government employees as to whether a citizen will be allowed to exercise her or his right to self-defense,” reported the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

Brentwood Woman Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison for Aiding ISIS

A Brentwood woman was sentenced Friday to 13 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge of providing more than $150,000 in financial support to the ISIS terrorist organization.

Zoobia Shahnaz, 29, was in addition sentenced to 10 years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert in Central Islip.

Shahnaz, a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan and a lab technician at a Manhattan hospital, obtained more than $85,000 of the money through a number of fraud schemes and passed the funds on to ISIS in a further complex manner, according to officials.

Hunter Biden Reaches Settlement in Child Support Case After Court Denies Latest Delay Attempt

Lawyers for Hunter Biden reached a final child support settlement with the Arkansas mother of his child late Tuesday night after a judge blasted the former vice president’s son for his repeated attempts to delay the case, likely avoiding the release of financial documents that could expose his business dealings abroad.

Biden’s lawyers on Tuesday argued he would be unable to attend scheduled hearings this week, citing the approaching due date of his pregnant wife, “intense media scrutiny” caused by his father Joe Biden’s presidential bid, and travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus. The claims were rejected by Arkansas circuit judge Holly Meyer, who admonished Biden, the defendant in the case, for his repeated attempts to delay the case.

Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration to Maintain Remain-In-Mexico Immigration Policy.

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration to continue enforcing an immigration policy requiring asylum seekers at the southern U.S. border to wait in Mexico while their cases are considered.

The court on Wednesday granted an emergency request by the administration to leave the program in place for now while legal proceedings continue. The order blocks the effect of a lower-court decision that said the administration must stop implementing the policy…….

Within hours of the Ninth Circuit court’s decision blocking the policy, hundreds of migrants queued at ports of entry in San Diego, El Paso, Texas, and Brownsville, Texas, some clutching printed copies of the court’s ruling, asking border officials to allow them into the U.S. They were turned away. The administration had been preparing military backup to guard U.S. points of entry in case migrants rushed the border, which it warned, in its filing with the Supreme Court, could happen if its policy was blocked.

The appeals court had agreed to postpone the effect of its decision temporarily, and it eventually gave the administration a week to seek intervention from the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is unlikely to give full consideration to the policy until its next term, which begins in October……

The administration also has argued recently that ending “Remain in Mexico” could also pose a risk amid the worsening coronavirus crisis, although the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. far exceeds the number in Mexico.

Federal judge blocks release of 3D-printed gun files

Talk about examples of shutting the barn door after the horses have not just left, but also foaled.

NEW YORK (WENY) — A federal judge has blocked the Trump Administration from allowing 3D-printed gun files, or ghost guns, to be released on the internet.

According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones granted a multistate request for a preliminary injunction of the files.

Allowing the release would yield widespread online access to downloadable files with specifications for particular firearms, including AR-15s.

The ghost guns were given their name because they are unregistered and untraceable. They lack a serial number and can be difficult to detect, even with a metal detector.

“Ghost guns threaten the safety of every man, woman, and child in America,” Attorney General James said. “We filed this lawsuit to stop the Trump Administration from making it easier for our schools, our offices, and our places of worship from turning into killing fields, and, thanks to the court, the president has been rebuffed in his attempt to cater to the one constituency he cares about: the gun lobby.”

The National Rifle Association and other gun rights advocates, however, argue that 3D-printed gun blueprints are already available online, and that disseminating them further should be allowed as free speech.

On Friday evening, Judge Jones ordered a preliminary injunction, blocking the administration from allowing the files to be released, while the lawsuit brought by Attorney General James and a coalition of 20 additional attorneys general from around the nation continues in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

Does the Second Amendment Mean You Have a Right to a Gun Shop Near You?

Imagine if gun rights groups demanded that gun shops did not have to meet state safety regulations because the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms and that fundamental constitutional right requires a similar right to be able to access firearms. Americans have a right to bear arms, therefore Americans have a right to purchase guns within a 30-mile radius of their homes, therefore states cannot pass safety regulations that have the effect of causing gun shops to go out of business.

This is the pro-abortion argument in the Supreme Court case June Medical Services v. Gee in a nutshell. Abortion clinics argue that the State of Louisiana cannot enact regulations intended to keep women safe because those regulations would lead to the closure of abortion clinics, and that would infringe on women’s rights not just to have an abortion but to access one in their area. This right to access is one of the key arguments against Louisiana’s law requiring abortionists to secure admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law intends to protect women who get abortions. The admitting privileges would allow the abortionists to bring a woman facing abortion complications into the hospital and treat her there.

During oral arguments last week, Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked Julie Rikelman, the lawyer representing abortion clinic June Medical Services, whether a state regulation would still be unconstitutional if it had no concrete effect limiting abortion.

“If a state passed an admitting privileges law, therefore, and suppose a state had ten clinics and two doctors for each clinic, but all 20 doctors could easily get the admitting privileges, so that there would be no effect on the clinics, no effect on the doctors who perform the abortions, and, therefore, no effect on the women who obtain abortions, would a law be constitutional in that state?” Kavanaugh asked.

Rikelman’s response proved rather revealing. “That law may still be unconstitutional if it’s restricting access because of the 30-mile limit, Your Honor,” she replied, referring to the requirement that abortionists get admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their facilities. She later condemned the Louisiana law by insisting that if it were enforced, “hundreds of thousands of women would now live more than 150 miles from the closest provider.”

In other words, any law instituting the kind of safety requirements Louisiana passed would be unconstitutional even if it did not force a single abortionist out of work, because in Rikelman’s reading the Constitution protects not only a woman’s right to have an abortion but a woman’s right to access that abortion near where she lives. In Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Supreme Court struck down a more restrictive Texas admitting privileges law claiming it posed an “undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion.” The Court’s decision to take up June Medical Services suggests a willingness to reconsider this stance — although the Louisiana law is less restrictive.

The Court’s precedents on abortion are extreme in many ways, and this access point seems particularly noteworthy. Most constitutionally-protected rights do not also include a right to access.

The First Amendment right to free speech does not also involve a right to a platform. The right to free assembly does not include a right to force other people to assemble with you.

Yet the case that seems most analogous to this “right” to access abortion is the right to keep and bear arms, as Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, noted last week. After all, the government has an interest in an armed citizenry being able to stave off a foreign invasion. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” the amendment states.

Even so, the Supreme Court has not struck down state laws regulating the operation of gun shops in the name of expanding access to firearms.

If gun rights groups claimed that it should, gun control advocates would object that firearms are dangerous and are designed to end human life, so it is eminently reasonable for states to restrict their sale. They might also argue that firearms can be dangerous for the people wielding them as well as the people targeted by them.

Yet both of these objections hold for abortion, as well. Abortion is designed to kill human life in the womb, and it carries a wide range of potential harms for the mothers, as well.

Of course, there is a monumental difference between these hot-button political issues. Unlike the right to abortion, which was “discovered” in the “penumbras” of the Fourteenth Amendment — an amendment passed by state legislators that were even then enacting laws to ban and restrict abortion — the right to keep and bear arms is clearly expressed in the Second Amendment. There is arguably far more reason for the Supreme Court to uphold the right to access firearms than there is for the Court to uphold the “right” to access abortion.

However, no one is calling for a Second Amendment ban on all state laws regulating gun shops, because it’s a ridiculous argument. Yet it helps illustrate the absurdities of the radical abortion argument currently before the Supreme Court.

Frontrunners Emerge for New Vacancy on Influential Appeals Court

D.C. Circuit has an opening. This will be Trump’s primary legacy as he is picking judges off a list made up by the Federalist Society which is near rabid on originalism concerning the Constitution.

Conservatives are seizing the opportunity created by a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Thursday, culling a shortlist of prospective nominees for a panel frequently called the second most powerful court in the nation.

The frontrunners for the vacancy created by Judge Thomas B. Griffith’s retirement are acting associate attorney general Claire Murray, deputy White House counsel Kate Todd, and U.S. District Judge Justin Walker, according to sources who have worked on judicial confirmations for the Trump administration. Other candidates are also under consideration, and the situation remains fluid.

President Donald Trump’s stunning gauntlet of judicial confirmation successes will feature prominently in his reelection pitch. The D.C. Circuit nomination could mobilize conservatives in much the same way that Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation drove Republican energy in 2018. The vacancy also aligns with the Trump campaign’s messaging on deregulation and reducing agency power, given the D.C. Circuit’s heavy diet of agency-law cases.

Murray is widely seen as a strong contender for the federal bench and commands admiration across the administration. Todd, a former chief counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Litigation Center, has coordinated the administration’s judicial nominations process since 2018.

Walker was a professor at the University of Louisville School of Law before his appointment to a Kentucky federal trial court in 2019. The judge is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and his advocacy for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is especially appreciated among conservatives.

Did Chuck Schumer Just Threaten Gorsuch and Kavanaugh? Sure Looks That Way.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appeared to threaten Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch over their potential votes in the first abortion case before the Supreme Court with the new conservative majority, during a #MyRightMyDecision rally outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” Schumer said to a chorus of cheers. “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”

That sounds like a threat to me, which means that Chuck Schumer violated the law. According to 18 U.S. Code § 115, whoever threatens a federal official, “with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge, or law enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, judge, or law enforcement officer on account of the performance of official duties, shall be punished” by a fine or imprisonment of as much as ten years.


Chief Justice John Roberts calls Sen. Chuck Schumer comments ‘dangerous’ threats

……..Several hours later, after Schumer’s comments ricochetted across social media, Roberts issued a statement through a court spokeswoman.

“Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous,” Roberts said in the statement. “All Members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.”………….

“To me this sounds like he’s talking about a physical price, violence,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., in an emotional statement from the Senate floor. “These are members of the Supreme Court — he the minority leader of the United States. … I believe these statements are outrageous. They’re uncalled for. They’re out of bounds. And on their face, they appear to invite violence against members of the Supreme Court.”

Supreme Court Narrowly Decides That Identity Theft by Illegal Aliens Is Actually a Crime

“This victory is a key one, but it also shows just how close we are to having our immigration laws being made illegal to enforce.”

Small wonder that we are a magnet for illegal immigration. Our courts, with the best of intentions, have created a Rube Goldberg device whereby the black letter of immigration law is thwarted by loopholes and roadblocks to enforcement.

In 1986, Congress enacted the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). IRCA made it illegal to employ illegal aliens, established an employment eligibility verification system, and created various civil and criminal penalties against employers who violate the law. As part of this law came the Form I-9, known to anyone who has applied for a job in the past 30 years. This is a largely toothless provision that does nothing to deter anyone from employing an illegal nor does it pose any noticeable bar to the ability of illegals to work, but it has created a booming black market in I-9 friendly documents.

What could have been a fairly formidable tool to deter longterm illegals has been effectively gutted by the courts.

In Flores-Figuroa vs. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that illegals using counterfeit social security cards could not be prosecuted for identity theft unless they knew that the bogus social security number belonged to a real person. The decision was 9-0, but three justices made it clear that their concurrence was based on the fact that the law provided for a greater penalty for users of social security numbers belonging to real people than it did for those belonging to no one or to a deceased person.

When the US Supreme Court in thetravesty known as Arizona vs. United States ruled that states have no authority to enforce US immigration law…thank you, John Roberts, for again selling the nation down the river in order to try to bond with the liberals on the court….it opened a can of worms for any judge or court which is sufficiently woke and ambitious enough to use it. One of those instances happened in Kansas.

The case in question is called Kansas vs. Garcia. This is the background.

On August 26, 2012, Officer Mike Gibson pulled Garcia over for speeding. Gibson asked Garcia where he was going in such a hurry. Garcia replied that he was on his way to work at Bonefish Grill. Based on the results of a routine records check on Garcia, Gibson contacted Detective Justin Russell, who worked in the financial crimes department of the Overland Park Police Department. Russell was in the neighborhood and came to the scene to speak with Garcia.

The day after speaking with Garcia, Russell contacted Bonefish Grill and obtained Garcia’s “[e]mployment application documents, possibly the W-2, the I-9 documents.” Russell then spoke with Special Agent Joseph Espinosa of the Social Security Office of the Inspector General. Espinosa told Russell that the Social Security number Garcia had used on the forms belonged to Felisha Munguia of Edinburg, Texas.

As a result of the investigation, Garcia was charged with one count of identity theft.

Garcia was convicted and the conviction was upheld on appeal. But the Kansas Supreme Court reversed. That court reasoned that because state officials were barred from using information on the I-9 for reasons other than verifying eligibility for employment that Kansas could not use the fact the fake social security number was used on state and federal tax returns and on an apartment lease as evidence of a crime.

The federal Immigration Reform and Control Act bars employers from knowingly employing undocumented immigrants. The act also requires employees to verify that they are eligible to work in the United States by submitting a Form I-9, and it strictly limits the use of information on or attached to a Form I-9. Because the Social Security numbers that the defendants were using appeared on their I-9s, the state court reasoned, the prosecution was trumped by the IRCA, even if the Social Security numbers also appeared on the defendants’ tax-withholding forms.

In short, what the Kansas Supreme Court did was legalize identity theft so long as you were an illegal. (READ: Will the Supreme Court Choose to Preserve Immigration Law or Will It Make Identity Theft Legally Protected?) The US Supreme Court heard the case back in March and the decision was handed down today.

The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, reinstated convictions obtained by Kansas prosecutors against three restaurant workers for using other people’s social security numbers on forms given to their employers.

The central question in the case, Kansas v. Garcia, was whether such state prosecutions were barred by a provision of federal immigration law that says any information submitted with federal work-authorization forms can’t be used for state law-enforcement purposes.

Justice Alito, writing for a conservative majority, said the answer was no. The mere fact that Kansas law on identity theft overlapped with federal law “does not even begin to make a case” that the state’s prosecutorial efforts should be pre-empted, he wrote.

“In the present cases, there is certainly no suggestion that the Kansas prosecutions frustrated any federal interests,” Justice Alito said.  Joining him in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

The Trump administration had sided with Kansas in the case, arguing that Congress never meant to carve out an immigration-related exception that would prevent states from enforcing their own identity-theft laws.

In dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the court’s liberal wing, said U.S. immigration law gave federal authorities the sole responsibility to police fraud committed to obtain eligibility to work.

The law “reserves to the federal government—and thus takes from the states—the power to prosecute people for misrepresenting material information in an effort to convince their employer that they are authorized to work in this country,” Justice Breyer wrote.

If this representation of Breyer’s views are correct, and I’ve not read the opinion, it is sheer lunacy. He is literally declaring that using a fake ID on an employment I-9 immunizes you from being prosecuted.

This victory is a key one, but it also shows just how close we are to having our immigration laws being made illegal to enforce.

Justice Gorsuch’s Statement on the Denial of Cert in the Guedes v. ATF Bump Stock Ban Appeal

The problem with this is that, since the preliminary injunction ( to keep the people who filed the suit from having to either destroy or surrender their bumpstocks) has been denied , is that those stocks are now contraband and possession makes the owner liable to felony prosecution. Nice choice. The plaintiffs might actually win on the merits of the case, but that’s small consolation to having to lose the stock and the $$ paid or face possibly being charged. So those folks are out either way even if they win.

Stupid judges.

[ED: read the full opinion with cited case references here. As TTAG’s resident consulting attorney LKB points out, the key here is the last paragraph. The appeal in Guedes is from a denial of a preliminary injunction. There is no ruling here on the merits of the case. In other words, the bump stock ban itself could still be overturned.]

Does owning a bump stock expose a citizen to a decade in federal prison? For years, the government didn’t think so. But recently the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives changed its mind.

Whether bump stocks can be fairly reclassified and effectively outlawed as machineguns under existing statutory definitions, I do not know and could not say without briefing and argument. Nor do I question that Congress might seek to enact new legislation directly regulating the use and possession of bump stocks.

But at least one thing should be clear: Contrary to the court of appeals’s decision in this case, Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. 467 U. S. 837 (1984), has nothing to say about the proper interpretation of the law before us. In the first place, the government expressly waived reliance on Chevron.

The government told the court of appeals that, if the validity of its rule (re)interpreting the machinegun statute “turns on the applicability of Chevron, it would prefer that the [r]ule be set aside rather than upheld.”

Yet, despite this concession, the court proceeded to uphold the agency’s new rule only on the strength of Chevron deference. Think about it this way. The executive branch and affected citizens asked the court to do what courts usually do in statutory interpretation disputes: supply its best independent judgment about what the law means. But, instead of deciding the case the old-fashioned way, the court placed an uninvited thumb on the scale in favor of the government. That was mistaken.

This Court has often declined to apply Chevron deference when the government fails to invoke it. Even when Chevron deference is sought, this Court has found it inappropriate where “the Executive seems of two minds” about the result it prefers.

Nor is it a surprise that the government can lose the benefit of Chevron in situations like these and ours. If the justification for Chevron is that “‘policy choices’ should be left to executive branch officials ‘directly accountable to the people,’” then courts must equally respect the Executive’s decision not to make policy choices in the interpretation of Congress’s handiwork.

To make matters worse, the law before us carries the possibility of criminal sanctions. And, as the government itself may have recognized in offering its disclaimer, whatever else one thinks about Chevron, it has no role to play when liberty is at stake.

Under our Constitution, “[o]nly the people’s elected representatives in the legislature are authorized to ‘make an act a crime.’” Before courts may send people to prison, we owe them an independent determination that the law actually forbids their conduct. A “reasonable” prosecutor’s say-so is cold comfort in comparison.

That’s why this Court has “never held that the Government’s reading of a criminal statute is entitled to any deference.” Instead, we have emphasized, courts bear an “obligation” to determine independently what the law allows and forbids.

That obligation went unfulfilled here. Chevron’s application in this case may be doubtful for other reasons too. The agency used to tell everyone that bump stocks don’t qualify as “machineguns.” Now it says the opposite. The law hasn’t changed, only an agency’s interpretation of it.

And these days it sometimes seems agencies change their statutory interpretations almost as often as elections change administrations. How, in all this, can ordinary citizens be expected to keep up—required not only to conform their conduct to the fairest reading of the law they might expect from a neutral judge, but forced to guess whether the statute will be declared ambiguous; to guess again whether the agency’s initial interpretation of the law will be declared “reasonable”; and to guess again whether a later and opposing agency interpretation will also be held “reasonable”?

And why should courts, charged with the independent and neutral interpretation of the laws Congress has enacted, defer to such bureaucratic pirouetting?

Despite these concerns, I agree with my colleagues that the interlocutory petition before us does not merit review. The errors apparent in this preliminary ruling might yet be corrected before final judgment. Further, other courts of appeals are actively considering challenges to the same regulation. Before deciding whether to weigh in, we would benefit from hearing their considered judgments—provided, of course, that they are not afflicted with the same problems. But waiting should not be mistaken for lack of concern.

Gun-Rights Activists Look to Supreme Court to Take Up AR-15 Bans, Confiscation Bills
High Court has yet to rule on ‘assault weapon’ bans

The latest denial of cert, even if it was simply for the preliminary injunction requiring the bump stocks be surrendered or destroyed, as I have just learned, still leaves me uneasy about the odds that the court will grant it for any of these cases, even though there’s disagreements across the appeals circuits.

Second Amendment advocates are pursuing multiple lawsuits against gun-control measures in an effort to trigger a Supreme Court challenge that could upend decades of legislation.

The Second Amendment Foundation has filed multiple gun-rights challenges in federal courts across the country. Founder Alan Gottlieb said the muddled nature of state laws, on issues ranging from open carry to the possession of certain weapons, calls out for judicial review from the nation’s highest court.

“Politicians making claims that the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to so-called assault weapons is exactly why the Supreme Court needs to take all of these cases and put this issue to rest,” Gottlieb told the Washington Free Beacon

The Supreme Court has never heard a legal challenge on either federal or state bans on “assault weapons” and has been largely silent on Second Amendment issues since its landmark rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010)……..

If the Supreme Court is moved to rule on new gun-rights cases….it could change the landscape of gun laws in the United States. Any ruling expanding protections for what categories of guns Americans have a right to own, or where they have a right to take their guns, could strike down laws in heavily Democratic states such as California, New York, and Illinois.

In 2016, the Supreme Court used Heller to toss out a Massachusetts woman’s conviction for possessing a stun gun banned in the state—the ban was later struck down by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. That was the only major gun-rights case that the justices ruled on in the last decade. Gun-rights advocates say the reluctance of the High Court to act has led to a confusing web of lower court decisions that leave the extent of Second Amendment protections an open question……….

Second Amendment activists are confident that they would prevail if state or local gun bans reach the Supreme Court. The Court ruled in Heller that weapons “in common use” for lawful purposes are protected by the Second Amendment. The AR-15 and other semiautomatic rifles are some of the most popular guns in the country with more than 17.7 million owned by civilians in the United States, according to a recent industry estimate……..

Appellate courts have disagreed, but there has been no uniform legal reasoning between circuits affirming the constitutionality of gun bans.

The Seventh Circuit ruled AR-15s and similar firearms banned in Cook County, Illinois, do not have a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.” The Fourth Circuit ruled the AR-15s banned by Maryland are “‘weapons that are most useful in military service’ — which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment’s reach.” The D.C. Circuit ruled there was a “substantial relationship” between the city’s AR-15 ban “and the objectives of protecting police officers and controlling crime.” The First Circuit ruled Massachusetts “(at most) minimally burdens” Second Amendment rights with its AR-15 ban.

Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the varied opinions make the issue ripe for the Supreme Court to take up.

“There are no grounds to say it’s settled law. You have circuit courts of appeal that are at disagreement as to why those bans are constitutional,” he told the Free Beacon. “When you have disagreement among the circuit courts that is a reason why the Supreme Court could be weighing in to come to an agreement on what that standard is.”………

There are at least six separate gun-rights challenges from MarylandIllinoisMassachusettsCalifornia, and New Jersey—as well as one challenging a federal ban on interstate handgun sales—waiting for review by the High Court. Not every gun-control advocate shares Levine’s optimism. Ladd Everitt, former director of the gun-control group One Pulse for America, said pro-gun control policymakers should not give the Supreme Court leeway to set new precedents overturning gun-control laws.

“The majority’s decision in Heller led to a torrent of litigation against gun-control laws nationwide,” Everitt said in a 2019 op-ed. “Thankfully, federal courts have rejected most of those challenges. It will become harder to do so in the future, however, if our increasingly pro-gun Supreme Court is allowed additional, unnecessary bites at the Second Amendment apple.”

The District of Columbia declined to appeal a 2017 decision striking down its restrictive gun-carry permit law because city officials feared a Supreme Court decision would strike down similar laws in other states. In 2019, New York City officials attempted to withdraw a bid to defend a law limiting the transportation of legally owned firearms after the Supreme Court agreed to review the case. Local gun-control groups even lobbied for a state law loosening the travel restrictions out of fear of what the Court might rule.

Several Supreme Court justices have publicly spoken out in favor of the Court taking more gun-rights cases. When the Court declined to hear a challenge to a California gun-carry law in 2017, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch wrote a dissent, telling their colleagues not to “stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right.”

“The Court’s decision to deny certiorari in this case reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right,” Thomas said. “The Court has not heard [an] argument in a Second Amendment case in over seven years—since March 2, 2010, in McDonald…. Since that time, we have heard argument[s] in, for example, roughly 35 cases where the question presented turned on the meaning of the First Amendment and 25 cases that turned on the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.”

The make-up of the Court has changed drastically since McDonald, following the additions of President Trump’s appointees, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Kavanaugh has previously weighed in on the constitutionality of gun bans, notably dissenting when the D.C. Circuit upheld the city’s assault-weapons ban in 2011.

“In my judgment, both D.C.’s ban on semiautomatic rifles and its gun registration requirement are unconstitutional under Heller,” he wrote. “There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semiautomatic handguns and semiautomatic rifles. Semiautomatic rifles, like semiautomatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.”

Americans may soon get a preview of which direction the current Court will move on guns when it issues its decision in the New York City gun-transportation case. In December, justices heard oral arguments in the New York City case and will decide whether to allow authorities to drop the case or rule on the merits. No matter the outcome in that case, both sides of the gun-control debate say the Supreme Court has the potential to shake up the entire course of legislative debates moving forward.

U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge to ban on gun ‘bump stocks’

This case was less ‘RKBA’ as it wasn’t based on a 2nd Amendment argument, than about ‘Chevron Deference’ where the courts defer to bureaucraps when they tie themselves into a logic pretzel to come up with a regulation. And as I have just learned, this was a ‘only’ denial of cert for the preliminary injunction on the demand by ATF that bump stocks have to be destroyed or surrendered since they are considered contraband machinegun conversion devices, but whatever.

This provides more confirmation that the conservative side of the court probably considers Roberts the new ‘squish’ as it only takes 4 Justices to grant ‘cert’.
And that means among Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Alito & Thomas they figured Roberts would side against them. Kavanaugh, Gorsuch have case history against ‘deference’ and Thomas has recently changed his mind and come around against it.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rebuffed a bid by gun rights advocates to overturn President Donald Trump’s ban on “bump stocks” – devices that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like a machine gun – implemented after the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting.

The justices left in place a lower court’s decision that upheld the Trump administration’s action to define bump stocks as prohibited machine guns under U.S. law.

The ban, which went into effect in March 2019, was embraced by Trump following a massacre that killed 58 people at a music festival in Las Vegas in which the gunman used bump stocks. It represented a rare recent instance of gun control at the federal level in a country that has experienced a series of mass shootings.

Numerous gun control proposals have been thwarted in the U.S. Congress, largely because of opposition by Republican lawmakers and the influential National Rifle Association gun rights lobby.

The Firearms Policy Foundation, a gun rights group, and other plaintiffs sued in federal court to try to reverse Trump’s action. The Supreme Court last year refused to block the ban from going into effect while the legal challenges against it were considered in the courts. The justices also refused to temporarily exempt from the plaintiffs in the case from the ban.

Court halts Trump asylum policy, then suspends its own order

“The tragedy of a man court who could not make up his its mind” 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel voted unanimously Friday to suspend an order it issued earlier in the day to block a central pillar of the Trump administration’s policy requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts.

The three-judge panel told the government to file written arguments by the end of Monday and for the plaintiffs to respond by the end of Tuesday……….

Government attorneys said immigration lawyers had begun demanding that asylum seekers be allowed in the United States, with one insisting that 1,000 people be allowed to enter at one location.

“The Court’s reinstatement of the injunction causes the United States public and the government significant and irreparable harms — to border security, public safety, public health, and diplomatic relations,” Justice Department attorneys wrote…….

The “Remain in Mexico” policy, known officially as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” took effect in January 2019 in San Diego and gradually spread across the southern border. About 60,000 people have been sent back to wait for hearings, and officials believe it is a big reason why illegal border crossings plummeted about 80% from a 13-year high in May.


Appeals court rules House can’t subpoena Don McGahn to testify

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday that former White House counsel Don McGahn doesn’t have to comply with a House subpoena to testify.

The opinion curtails Congress’ ability to force members of the executive branch to appear before committees for questioning.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s opinion overturned a lower court’s decision in November that McGahn must testify in the House’s impeachment investigation………

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia’s opinion overturned a lower court’s decision in November that McGahn must testify in the House’s impeachment investigation….