Rodriguez v. United States — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, urging that the Fourth Amendment be applied to all searches and seizures of automobiles. We asked the Court to leave no latitude for judges to compromise away the constitutionally-protected civil liberties of Americans to serve the “needs” of law enforcement.

In Rodriguez, a police officer in Nebraska stopped a Mercury Mountaineer occupied by two men that allegedly swerved onto the shoulder and then back onto the road. He wrote them a warning, and returned their licenses and other paperwork, ending the traffic stop. He then asked if they minded if he ran his drug dog around the car. The driver objected, but instead of letting them go, the officer detained them again, ordering them not to move until backup arrived. The drug dog “alerted” on the vehicle and the police found drugs. Read More

Rudy v. Lee — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, supporting a patent attorney’s claim that a law mandating an increase in patent application fees was invalid because it was signed into law by President Obama who does not meet the constitutional requirement to be a “natural born citizen.” The lower courts in the case ruled that the question of President Obama’s citizenship is a “political question” and thus an issue for Congress — not the courts — to decide. Read More

Johnson v. United States — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the caseJohnson v. U.S., No. 13-7120.

The Petitioner, Johnson had been convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Ordinarily, the trial judge would have had discretion to sentence Johnson up to 10 years in prison. However, the judge determined that Johnson met the definition of an “armed career criminal” under federal law, and thus subjecting him to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. Read More

Heien v. North Carolina — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a North Carolina man who challenged the constitutionality of his traffic stop. A police officer pulled Heien over because his car’s right rear brake light was not functioning properly. However, North Carolina law requires only one working rear “lamp.”

The Supreme Court of North Carolina had ruled that the Fourth Amendment requires only that the police act “reasonably,” based on a judicial evaluation of the “totality of the circumstances.” Applying a type of freestanding balancing test derived from past Supreme Court cases, the court decided that it believed the police officer’s alleged mistake of law was a reasonable one. Thus, the old maxim has been revised to “ignorance of the law is no excuse — unless you are the one enforcing the law.” Read More

U.S. v. Wurie — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On April 9, 2014, we filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of United States v. Wurie. The issue before the court is whether arresting officers can search the cell phone of a person arrested without a warrant. However, the underlying issue in Wurie and its companion case, Riley v. California, is whether the Court will continue to apply its evolving reasonable expectation of privacy test birthed in Katz v. United States to searches incident to arrest, or instead continue with its restoration of property principles begun inUnited States v. Jones and Florida v. Jardines. Read More

Ohio Election Commission v. Susan B. Anthony List — Amicus Brief Filed Opposing Ohio’s “Ministry of Truth”

Michael Harless Election Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Taking a page out of Orwell’s novel 1984, the Ohio Elections Commission operates as a modern “Ministry of Truth’ — with the power to “determine” and “proclaim” the truth or falsity of every statement made during an Ohio political campaign. Our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, contending that the government has no legitimate role whatsoever to play in guiding Americans as to how to vote. Read More

Drake v. Jerejian — Amicus Brief challenging New Jersey’s Concealed Carry Laws

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

In New Jersey, it is a crime to possess a firearm unless you can prove that you fit within one or more tightly-drawn statutory exemptions. One exemption allows a person to have a handgun on his own property, but he may not step one foot beyond unless the gun is fully disabled and he is heading to an approved destination.

New Jersey carry permits are like honest politicians — they are rumored to exist, but few have ever actually seen one. As one State legislator observed: “It is virtually never done.” An ordinary person may be granted a permit only if he can prove to the satisfaction of a judge that his life is in grave danger. Certain members of the privileged class of government workers are permitted to carry firearms; they need only prove that they are currently or were formerly employed in law enforcement. Read More

Obamacare Contraception/Abortion Services Mandate Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

The story is told of a grizzled Master Sargent who, reflecting on his years of service, said: “When I joined up, homosexuality was prohibited; now it’s tolerated; and I darn sure am getting out before it’s mandatory.” So it is with respect to homosexual and abortion rights. First, the goal is said to be tolerance. Then, governmental approval and support. Lastly, any pretense of tolerance disappears, and the coercive force of government is used to eliminate any vestige of opposition. The Obamacare contraception/abortion mandate demonstrates that our nation is at the end of phase two, moving into phase three. Read More

Quinn v. Texas Brief Filed Opposing No-Knock Home Raids

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Every day we read about SWAT teams serving arrest warrants or search warrants at people’s homes, using no-knock raids in the middle of the night. Many of these police home invasions go wrong, with innocent people being shot, and sometimes killed, just because they were trying to defend themselves.  Even criminals have learned to claim that they are the police while breaking into homes, to discourage resistance. Read More

Chris Hedges v. Barack Obama Amicus Brief urges Supreme Court to bar NDAA Military Detentions of Citizens

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm has filed our third amicus brief in support of Chris Hedges and the other journalists and political activists who are challenging Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1540enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr1540enr.pdf), and its authorization of the military detention of civilians based on vague standards of providing “support” for an adversary of the United States. Read More

United States v. James Alvin Castleman Amicus Brief in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On December 23, 2013, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Castleman, in support of the grant of a petition for certiorari. This case involves the meaning of the term “physical force” contained in the federal law defining misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (“MCDV”), popularly known as the Lautenberg Amendment

Passed in 1996, the Lautenberg Amendment makes it a federal crime for a person to acquire or possess a firearm after he has been convicted of a MCDV. An MCDV is defined as a crime that “has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.” Read More

Bruce James Abramski v. US — Amicus Brief in the United States Supreme Court (on the Merits)

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Abramski v. United States, in a case challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) definition of what constitutes an illegal “straw purchase” of a firearm. This case involves one of the greatest instances of regulatory and prosecutorial abuse that we have ever seen.

The concept of a “straw purchase” is a “doctrine” created by ATF and the courts, rather than a “crime” enacted by Congress. Indeed, as pointed out in our brief, in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, Senators Leahy and Schumer introduced a bill (that was not enacted) to outlaw straw purchases. If straw purchases were already illegal, then there would have been no need for such a bill to be introduced. Read More

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning — Amicus Brief for Citizens United

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, et al. in the United States Supreme Court, in support of the respondents.

In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering the scope and limitations of the President’s recess appointment power.

Our brief was filed on behalf of Citizens United, Citizens United Foundation, U.S. Justice Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Gun Owners Foundation, Lincoln Institute, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. Read More

Howard Wesley Cotterman v. US — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Howard Wesley Cotterman v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner.

In this case, the Ninth Circuit determined that the federal government may seize, copy, and forensically analyze the hard drive of a laptop of a U.S. citizen returning to the country, without a warrant, based merely on “reasonable suspicion.” Our amicus brief argues that the circuit court reached this decision by employing an atextual analytical approach, and the sanctioned search violates the Fourth Amendment ban on general searches. Further, the Supreme Court needs to provide guidance to lower courts on how the property basis of the Fourth Amendment should be applied to digital searches, using an analysis not based exclusively on ephemeral “expectations of privacy.” Under the circuit court’s approach, no one would be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures. Read More

National Rifle Association, et al. v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, et al. Amicus Brief for The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of a petition for certiorari filed by the National Rifle Association, challenging the federal prohibition against the purchase of firearms by 18-20 year olds.

Our brief noted that in the five years since Heller was decided, the lower courts have refused to follow the Heller framework for deciding cases based on the text and context of the Second Amendment. Instead, the courts have continued to employ judicial interest-balancing tests, an approach which the Heller Court specifically rejected. Read More

Tim Moose v. William Scott MacDonald Amicus Brief for Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Tim Moose v. William Scott MacDonald in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner.

Our brief was filed on behalf of Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, Virginia Senator Dick Black, Public Advocate of the United States, U.S. Justice Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, The Abraham Lincoln Foundation for Research and Education, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Policy Analysis Center. Read More

Raymond Woollard, et al. v. Denis Gallagher, et al. Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a petition for certiorari challenging Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement for those who apply for a concealed carry permit.

Since Heller, which involved the “keeping” of a handgun within the home, most lower federal courts have been unwilling to give Second Amendment rights significant application outside the home. Unfortunately, most judges serving on the lower federal courts have exhibited a continuing visceral hostility to firearms, the Second Amendment, and the Heller decision. Read More

Rosemond v. United States Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Justus Cornelius Rosemond v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner. Our amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to examine the question raised in this case in light of the recently decided case of Alleynev. United States’ new interpretation of Section 924(c)(1)(A), defining three firearms offenses instead of only one. If the Government’s theory of aiding and abetting is affirmed in this case, it will unwisely and unnecessarily expand prosecutorial discretion in the administration of the mandatory minimum sentence structure of Section 924(c)(1)(A) and undermine the role of the jury envisioned in Alleyne. Read More

Abramski v. United States Amicus Brief for Congressman Steve Stockman, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Bruce James Abramski, Jr. v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner. Our amicus brief argues that the petition should be granted because it raises compelling concerns about the administration of the national instant background check system that have not been, but should be, settled by the Supreme Court. The ATF “straw purchase” doctrine upon which Abramski’s conviction rests conflicts with both statute and regulation. The ATF Form 4473’s question 11.a. and instructions are misleading and confusing, creating a trap for the unwary. The Form 4473 distinction between a third party gift and a third party purchase is arbitrary and capricious. Finally, Congress has not enacted any law authorizing the prevention of straw purchases of firearms from licensed firearm dealers and has thus far declined to enact the ATF “straw purchase” doctrine into law. Read More

Kerri L. Kaley v. United States Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Kerri L. Kaley v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioners. Our amicus brief argues that the court of appeal’s preclusion of a meaningful right to challenge asset seizures imbalances the federal criminal justice system, impairs a defendant’s right to counsel of choice, and violates due process of law. Further, a grand jury indictment is not an acceptable substitute for a postindictment, pretrial hearing, prior to seizure of a defendants’ assets Read More

Bond v. United States (Bond II) Amicus Brief for U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court attacking the notion that once a treaty has been ratified by the U.S. Senate it vests in Congress new powers not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution to implement that treaty. Specifically, we ask the Supreme Court to overrule Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 542 (1920), the infamous case involving the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which disregarded the limited nature of the federal government, and the text of the Tenth Amendment. Read More

Shaun McCutcheon v. FEC Amicus Brief for Downsize DC Foundation, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Election Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Incumbent Congressmen must not be allowed to make it extremely difficult to challenge them for re-election, as they have done since 1971 by use of campaign finance laws.

Today we filed an amicus brief on behalf of Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, Free Speech Coalition, Inc., Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, U.S. Justice Foundation, Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., English First, English First Foundation, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, Western Center for Journalism, Policy Analysis Center, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Libertarian National Committee, Inc. and Constitution Party National Committee in Support of Appellants. Read More

United States of America v. Edith Schlain Windsor and Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives Amicus Brief on Jurisdiction and Standing Questions for Citizens United’s National Committee for Family, Faith and Prayer, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief on jurisdiction and standing questions in the case of United States of America v. Edith Schlain Windsor and Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the United States House of Representatives in the United States Supreme Court in support of resp. Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of Citizens United’s National Committee for Family, Faith and Prayer, Citizens United Foundation, U.S. Justice Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, The Lincoln Institute, Public Advocate of the U.S., Declaration Alliance, Western Center for Journalism, Institute on the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln Foundation, English First, English First Foundation., Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Protect Marriage Maryland PAC, Delegate Bob Marshall, and Senator Dick Black. Read More

Dennis Hollingsworth, et al. v. Kristin M. Perry, et al. Amicus Brief for Citizens United’s National Committee for Family, Faith and Prayer, et al. in the United States Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Dennis Hollingsworth, et al. v. Kristin M. Perry, et al. in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioners.

Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of Citizens United’s National Committee for Family, Faith and Prayer, Citizens United Foundation, U.S. Justice Foundation, Gun Owners Foundation, The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Public Advocate of the United States, Declaration Alliance, Western Center for Journalism, Institute on the Constitution, Abraham Lincoln Foundation for Public Policy Research, Inc., Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, English First, and Protect Marriage Maryland PAC. Read More