State of Arizona et al. v. United States, Amicus Brief for U.S. Border Control and English First Foundation, et al. in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of State of Arizona et al.v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioners’ petition for a writ of certiorari. Our brief argues that it is the preeminent duty of the Supreme Court to preserve the balance between the federal and state governments struck by the United States Constitution.

While Article VI of the Constitution provides that constitutional federal law is the supreme law of the land, it is incumbent upon the courts to remember that the powers of Congress are few and definite, while the powers of the State are many and indefinite. Indeed, it is even more critical to recall that the governments of the original 13 states preceded the government of the United States both in time and in right. If this truth is forgotten, the Supremacy Clause will be misused, subordinating the several states to the national government when the Constitution is replete with provisions designed to preserve the States as sovereign political communities with reserved powers to protect and to preserve themselves as free and independent states. Read More

United States v. Antoine Jones Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of United States v. Antoine Jones in the United States Supreme Court. Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Institute on the Constitution, Restoring Liberty Action Committee, U.S. Justice Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Free Speech Coalition, Inc., Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Inc., DownsizeDC.org, Downsize DC Foundation, and The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education. Read More

Daniel Chapter One v. Federal Trade Commission, Amicus Brief in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Health Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Daniel Chapter One, et al. v. Federal Trade Commission in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioners’ petition for writ of certiorari. Our amicus brief was filed on behalf of U.S. Justice Foundation (www.usjf.net) and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.cldef.org).

Our brief argues that the Court of Appeals erroneously allowed the FTC to assert jurisdiction over Daniel Chapter One and that requiring Daniel Chapter One to substantiate its product claims by “controlled clinical studies” is outside FTC’s statutory authority. Further our brief argues that no government has authority to dictate the health care choices of competent individuals. Lastly, parts of the FTC’s order substantially burden Daniel Chapter One’s exercise of religion in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and contravene the First Amendment principle of speaker autonomy. Read More

Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC, et al. v. Ken Bennett, Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, et al. in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Election Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC, et al. v. Ken Bennett in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioners.

Our brief argues that the Arizona system of public financing of campaigns for election to public office, the Arizona Citizens Clean Election Act, is unconstitutional to its core. Contrary to the analysis of the lower court, the public financing system approved in Buckley v. Valeo does not govern this case as Buckley permits only voluntarily-funded public financing of elections, while a ten percent surcharge on civil penalties and criminal fines unconstitutionally funds the Arizona public financing system. Further, the Arizona act unconstitutionally abridges petitioners’ privileges and immunities in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Our brief further argues that the Buckley rationale for public financing of election campaigns is fundamentally flawed and that the Arizona public financing scheme is antithetical to First Amendment principles. Read More

Skoien v. U.S., Amicus Brief for Gun Owners Foundation et al. in the U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners of California, Inc., Virginia Citizens Defense League, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund in the case of Steven Skoien v. United States in the United States Supreme Court in support of petitioner Skoien.

Our brief takes a quite different approach from that taken by other firearms organizations. For example, the attached chart contrasts the positions taken in our brief with the positions taken by the NRA. Read More

Doe v. Reed U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief for Free Speech Defense and Education Fund and Free Speech Coalition

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today our firm filed an amicus brief for the Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, the Free Speech Coalition, and 28 other nonprofit and for profit organizations in the case of Doe v. Reed, in the United States Supreme Court.

The brief argues that, contrary to what the state of Washington claims,freedom of speech principles do indeed apply to the Washington state referendum petition process. Moreover, anonymity for referendum petition signers in that state legislative process is protected from state abridgment by the14th amendment as an individual privilege and immunity of United States citizenship secured under the republican form of government guarantee of Article IV, Section 4 of the United States Constitution. Read More

Otis McDonald v. City of Chicago Amicus Brief in Support of Petitioners U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Firearms Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On November 23, 2009, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of petitioners’ challenge to an ordinance banning handguns in Chicago. The amicus brief argues that the Chicago handgun ban unconstitutionally abridges petitioners’ right to keep and bear arms, a privilege or immunity belonging to them as United States citizens protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. It also explains that no wholesale change in the Supreme Court’s Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence is required to rule that the Chicago ordinance unconstitutionally abridges petitioners’ right to keep and bear arms. Further, it asserts that incorporation of the right to keep and bear arms into the Due Process Clause would result in weak and potentially transitory protection of that right. Read More

David R. Olofson — Petition for Certiorari filed

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

Today, our firm filed a Petition for Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of Army Reservist David Olofson, urging the Court to grant Certiorari to review the Seventh Circuit decision affirming Olofson’s conviction. The Petition was docketed on August 31, 2009. Amicus briefs are due by September 30, 2009.

Olofson was sentenced to prison for 30 months for transferring a “machine gun” — which really was a lawful-to-own, semi-automatic AR-15 rifle which occasionally manifested a “hammer-follow” malfunction, resulting in short bursts followed by jamming. Read More

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Amicus Brief in Support of Appellant U.S. Supreme Court

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of appellant Citizens United on a supplemental question. The amicus brief urges that Citizens United’s challenge to federal regulation of electioneering communications be sustained, and the decisions in Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce andMcConnell v. FEC, as applied to BCRA section 203, be overruled since they endorse an erroneous view of the freedom of speech that conflicts with Citizens United’s freedom of the press. Contrary to the assumptions in Austin and McConnell, the freedom of the press does not confer a special privilege upon the institutional press, but is enjoyed by all the people. Austin’s and McConnell’s narrow reading of the press freedom is not only contrary to history, but at odds with new realities of journalism. Read More

McDonald v. City of Chicago NRA v. City of Chicago Amicus Brief in Support of Petitions for a Writ of Certiorari U.S. Supreme Court

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation in support of petitioners’ request for a writ of certiorari. These cases involve challenges to City of Chicago and Village of Oak Park bans on handguns. At issue is whether the Fourteenth Amendment applies the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms against the States. The amicus brief urges that the petitions present an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by the Supreme Court. It also argues that the Chicago and Oak Park handgun bans abridge one of the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States — the right to keep and bear arms — in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Read More

National Taxpayers Union v Social Security Administration Amicus Brief in Support of Petitioner U.S. Supreme Court

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of petitioner National Taxpayers Union. At issue in this case is the constitutionality of a statute — section 1140 of the Social Security Act — which was misused to uphold significant penalties against National Taxpayers Union for engaging in core political speech, entitled to the strongest First Amendment protection possible. The amicus brief submits that the court of appeals erred by failing to apply correctly certain precedents of the Supreme Court, and that the decision of the court of appeals, if allowed to stand, would impede the free exercise of core political speech by persons and organizations critical of government policies and programs. Read More

Gun Owners Foundation Amicus Brief Filed in United States v. Hayes U.S. Supreme Court

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

On September 26, 2008, we filed on behalf of Gun Owners Foundation an amicus brief in United States v. Hayes.  The GOF brief urged the Supreme Court to affirm a Fourth Circuit court of appeals ruling that, as a matter of statutory interpretation, an individual does not lose the right to own a gun unless the prosecutor in the misdemeanor case  proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the misdemeanor event was, in fact, a domestic one. Read More

Wyeth v. Levine Amicus Brief Filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on Behalf of The Senior Citizens League

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

On behalf of The Senior Citizens League (“TSCL”), we filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine (Supreme Court Docket No. 06-1249) on behalf of the respondent, Diana Levine. The issue in this case is whether approval of a drug and its labeling by the Food and Drug Administration preempts state tort liability when the label as approved does not adequately warn of the dangers of certain forms of administration of a drug. Read More

District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc., et. al.

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court supporting the respondent in the D.C. gun ban case, District of Columbia, et. al., v. Dick Anthony Heller, No. 07-290. The brief was filed on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., Virginia Citizens Defense League, Gun Owners of California, Inc., Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. Read More

Abigail Alliance Case — Amicus Brief Filed In U.S. Supreme Court for The Seniors Citizen League

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

Today we filed an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court in the case of Abigail Alliance v. VonEschenbach, Commissioner of the FDA.  The U.S. Supreme Court had been asked by an alliance of terminally ill patients with no conventional medical alternatives to overturn an en banc decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit which allows the FDA to bar these patients’ access to certain drugs, even after the FDA has approved them for Phase II testing. Read More

Strict Construction of Federal Criminal Laws U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief Watson v. United States

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

On behalf of Gun Owners Foundation and the Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Watson v. United States.  This brief asks the Court to overturn the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and to re-establish the common law rule of strict construction of criminal statutes.  In this case, an undercover agent sought to buy drugs from Watson, and offered a firearm as part of the purchase price.  The federal government indicted Watson for not only the drug sale, but also for the “use” of a firearm in connection with a federal drug trafficking crime, which would greatly increase the sentence if convicted.  Clearly, in the normal sense of the word, receiving a gun is not “using” a firearm in connection with a drug trafficking crime, but the Fifth Circuit interpreted the word “use” broadly to encompass receipt.  Had the rule of strict construction been applied to this case, and “use” interpreted in its normal sense, Mr. Watson would not be faced with a mandatory additional minimum prison sentence of five years under 18 U.S.C. section 924(c).  Our amicus brief also asks the Court to reject the modern “rule of lenity” that has proved to be no substitute for strict construction.  Strict construction of federal criminal law is necessary to preserve constitutional separation of powers, as well as principles of federalism.  Our amicus brief illustrates how allowing police and prosecutors to go beyond the words of the statute to define a crime opens up opportunities for abuse. Read More

Michael New v. Donald H. Rumsfeld — Reply Brief of Petitioner

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

We filed in the United States Supreme Court a reply to the Government’s brief in opposition to former Army Specialist Michel G. New’s petition for review of his January 1995 court-martial conviction (for violation of an order requiring him to wear the United Nations uniform prescribed for deployment to a U.N. operation in Macedonia).

After we had filed the Petition for Certiorari in November 2006, the Government filed a waiver with the Court, presumably indicating thereby that it considered New’s petition to be without merit.  In December 2006, however, the Court requested the Government to file a response which it did on March 20, 2007 with a brief in opposition. Read More

Wisconsin Right to Life — Amicus Brief

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

Today we filed a Brief Amicus Curiae in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Wisconsin Right to Life case.  The brief asks the Court to reconsider its prior holdings in the McConnell and Buckley cases, and to strike down the Congressional ban on “electioneering communications.”  (We had previously filed an amicus brief in support of Wisconsin Right to Life when the case came before the Court last year.) Read More

Michael G. New v. Donald H. Rumsfeld — Petition for Certiorari

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, we filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, seeking review by the United States Supreme Court of the dismissal of Michael G. New’s collateral attack on his January 1996 court-martial.  (Former Army Specialist New was convicted of disobedience of an allegedly lawful order for failure to wear the United Nations uniform prescribed for his unit’s deployment as part of a U.N. commanded operation in Macedonia.) Read More

United Seniors Association v. Social Security Administration Amicus Brief Filed to Attack Federal Statute Censoring 15 Political Words

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Postal Law, U. S. Supreme Court

We filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Citizens United Foundation, and Downsize DC Foundation in support of United Seniors Association’s (USA) petition for a writ of certiorari.

The amicus brief takes issue with the casual way that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit addressed the significant free speech claims of the United Seniors Association in a case seeking judicial review of a $545,000 “civil penalty” imposed by the SSA. Read More

Citizens United, Citizens United Foundation, Amicus Brief in Wisconsin Right to Life Case

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an Amicus Brief for Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC. The brief asks the Supreme Court to overturn a decision of a Special Three Judge District Court in the District of Columbia. The brief argues that the lower court misread the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC resolving a “facial” challenge to the constitutionality of the “electioneering communications” provisions of the McCain-Feingold law (the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002) to preclude future “as applied” challenges. The brief emphasizes that the judicial power to decide constitutional questions is limited to the facts as presented in an individual case or controversy and that no judicial ruling may constitutionally be imposed upon a person or entity not a party to the case. At stake, then, in this case is the reach of judicial power and the due process right of every person to have his day in court. Read More

McCreary (Ten Commandments) U.S. Supreme Court Case Amicus Brief Filed

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of :
Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund,
Joyce Meyer Ministries,
Committee to Protect the Family Foundation,
Lincoln Institute for Research and Education,
American Heritage Party,
Public Advocate of the United States,
Radio Liberty, and
Spiritual Counterfeits Project, Inc.
in the pending Ten Commandments case, McCreary County, Kentucky v.ACLU of Kentucky. Read More