Independence Institute v. FEC — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Election Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Today we filed an amicus brief in support of the Independence Institute in their challenge to the Federal Election Commission’s regulations requiring the names and addresses of donors to nonprofits doing issue ads, which technically meet the criteria of Independent Expenditures, to be disclosed. Our brief explains the motivation of Congress for wanting this information.

Link to brief

Jeremiah Morgan Testifies Before the Federal Election Commission

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Appearances, Election Law

Today, on behalf of the Free Speech Coalition, Inc., the Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and U.S. Justice Foundation Jeremiah Morgan of our firm testified before the Federal Election Commission at its Hearings on the McCutcheon v. FEC Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. (His testimony appears at 5:19:51 of the video.)

Link to video

Comments filed opposing FEC rulemaking after McCutcheon Decision

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Election Law

Today we filed comments in response to the Federal Election Commission notice in considering a petition for rulemaking. This petition asks the FEC to expand the definition of “federal office” to include a delegate to a constitutional convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

We explained that the FEC has no authority to expand the definition of “federal office” — as this term is clearly defined in statute. Moreover, we explain that the manner by which delegates would be selected to serve at a so-called “Convention of the States” under Article V would be governed by state, not federal law. Read More

Comments filed with the FEC on Definition of “Federal Office”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Election Law

Today we filed comments in response to the Federal Election Commission notice in considering a petition for rulemaking. This petition asks the FEC to expand the definition of “federal office” to include a delegate to a constitutional convention for proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

We explained that the FEC has no authority to expand the definition of “federal office” — as this term is clearly defined in statute. Moreover, we explain that the manner by which delegates would be selected to serve at a so-called “Convention of the States” under Article V would be governed by state, not federal law. Read More

Comments filed with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives opposing Multiple Rifle Sale Reporting (take two)

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

For the second time in as many months, our firm filed comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation, expressing opposition to the ATF’s continuing effort to require federally licensed firearms dealers (FFL’s) to report to ATF information regarding the sale of multiple rifles.

Purportedly concerned about firearms being trafficked to Mexican drug cartels, three years ago ATF snuck past the courts a requirement that all FFLs located in the four southwest border states (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) must report to the ATF any sale to a single person of two or more rifles within a five day period. Read More

Gun Owners of America & Gun Owners Foundation Comments to ATF on “Adjudicated as a Mental Defective”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

President Obama announced that his Administration would do all in its power to stop gun violence. By that he seems to have meant reducing private ownership of firearms. Now, it turns out that he is not just doing things within his presidential power to achieve that objective – he is usurping legislative power to amend statutes unilaterally.

On January 7, 2014, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”), issued Proposed Rules designed to vastly increase the number of Americans prohibited from owning firearms, including many U.S. Veterans, by changing the meaning of words contained in laws passed by Congress. Read More

U.S. Justice Foundation Comments to HHS on HIPAA Privacy Rule and the NICS System

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Our firm filed comments for U.S. Justice Foundation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) opposing its Proposed Rule designed to decrease the number of Americans who may possess firearms, particular adversely affecting Veterans.

Our comments explain that the HIPAA Privacy Rules have been perverted from their original purpose to enhance patient confidences. Especially, with the new proposed amendments, these rules are now better understood as not involving privacy, but providing a justification for the federal government to have access to all of your private medical information. Read More

Gun Owners Foundation Comments to HHS on HIPAA Privacy Rule and the NICS System

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Our firm filed comments for Gun Owners Foundation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) opposing its Proposed Rule designed to decrease the number of Americans who may possess firearms, even for self defense in the home.

The HHS Proposed Rule (“PR”) is one of the “23 executive actions” announced by the Obama Administration allegedly in response to the Newtown, Connecticut mass shooting. It proposes changes in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) regulations which were designed to establish national standards to protect the privacy of healthcare records. This PR would authorize health care providers to provide information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”). Read More

Comments to ATF on NFA Weapons

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Today, our firm submitted comments on behalf of Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) opposing an ATF Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

ATF’s proposed rule PR would change the requirements for applications to make or transfer certain National Firearms Act firearms and devices. Many CLEOs are opposed to an armed citizenry and, for that reason alone, simply refuse to sign NFA paperwork for any persons in their jurisdiction. However, under current rules, a person can still obtain an NFA weapon by using a trust or corporation. Under proposed rulemaking, though, the Obama ATF would require trusts and corporations to submit photographs, fingerprints and chief law enforcement (“CLEO”) approval for every “responsible person” connected with the trust or corporation. Read More

FEC Issues Advisory Opinion Sought by Citizens for Joseph Miller

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Election Law

Representing Alaska Senate candidate Joseph Miller’s campaign committee, Bill Olson appeared before the Federal Election Commission today to answer questions about the facts underlying Advisory Opinion Request No. 13-11 filed by the firm on the campaign’s behalf. After a lengthy discussion, the FEC approved the Advisory Opinion on a 5-1 vote. The Commission ruled that the Committee’s use of campaign funds with respect to an appeal of a judgment to the Alaska Supreme Court relating to his 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate was fully permissible, and not a personal use. Read More

Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation Comments to ATF on “Requests to Exempt Certain Projectiles from Regulation as ‘Armor Piercing’ Ammunition”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law

Today our firm filed comments with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) on behalf of Gun Owners of America, Inc. and Gun Owners Foundation pursuant to the ATF request for comments on the use of the “sporting purposes” exemption for “certain projectiles from regulation as ‘armor piercing’ ammunition.”

These comments were filed because “GOA and GOF believe that ATF’s past interpretations of Section 921(a)(17) have been erroneous, and are contrary to the clear intent of Congress. Thus, ATF’s understanding of what constitutes AP ammunition should be revised.” Read More

Center for Individual Freedom, et al. v. Chris Van Hollen, et al. Amicus Brief for Free Speech Coalition, Inc., et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Constitutional Law, Election Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Center for Individual Freedom, et al. v. Chris Van Hollen, et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in support of appellants and reversal.

Our brief argues that the BCRA section 201 provision requiring disclosure of the names and addresses of all contributors who contributed an aggregate of $1,000 or more is subject to the rule of statutory construction to avoid serious constitutional problems. The Supreme Court did not address or resolve in Citizens United the constitutionality of whether the disclosure requirement applied to any donor who gave money generally to the publisher of an electioneering communication without direction as to how the funds should be used. Forced disclosures are subject to “exacting scrutiny” requiring proof of a strong governmental interest in the prevention of corruption or the appearance of corruption. The government interest in a better informed public, standing by itself, is not sufficient to override the well-established anonymity principle undergirding the freedoms of speech and the press. To avoid compromising that principle, BCRA’s disclosure provision should be construed to require proof that the “contributor who contributed” did so with the specific purpose of supporting an electioneering communication. Read More

Daniel Chapter One Application for Stay

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Health Law

Today we filed an Application for Stay with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the Commission to stay its Order of January 25, 2010 against Daniel Chapter One, pending review in an Article III court. The Application was supported by a Memorandum, a Proposed Form of Order, and the following declarations:

Declaration of James Feijo
Declaration of Patricia Feijo
Daniel Chapter One
HealthWatch Radio
Health Freedom Fight 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

BATF Firearm Civil Forfeiture Procedures and Policies: An Attorney’s Guide

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law, Publications

On behalf of Gun Owners Foundation, our firm authored “BATF Firearm Civil Forfeiture Procedures and Policies: An Attorney’s Guide” on July 4, 2007. The guide is intended to provide a procedural overview for attorneys unfamiliar with civil forfeiture law as it applies to firearms, including what to expect from the BATF, and how to go about recovering seized assets.
This manual has been revised as of January 30, 2009. Read More

Free Speech Coalition Initial Comments on Cooperative Mail Rule

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Postal Law

On behalf of the Free Speech Coalition, we filed Initial Comments in Postal Regulatory Commission Docket No. PI2008 4 requesting that the Commission make no change to the cooperative mail rule (CMR) in the Postal Service’s regulations that was revised by the Postal Service in 2003. The Commission is reviewing the CMR pursuant to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, Pub. L. 109 435, Section 711. FSC supports the Postal Service’s 2003 change to the CMR that created a fundraising exception which enables nonprofits to use nonprofit Standard Mail postage rates without unnecessary burdens imposed by the Postal Service. Read More

Gun Owners of America/Gun Owners Foundation Comments to the U.S. Postal Service Regarding “Proposed New Standards Prohibit the Mailing of Replica or Inert Munitions”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Firearms Law, Postal Law

Today, on behalf of Gun Owners of American and Gun Owners Foundation, we filed comments opposing the United States Postal Service’s “Proposed New Standards Prohibit the Mailing of Replica or Inert Munitions.”  (See 73 Fed. Reg. 12321.)  The new rule proposes to declare nonmailable “[r]eplica or inert munitions.”

The comments demonstrate that the proposed standard is unauthorized by law, and violative of the Postal Service’s Universal Service Obligation.  Additionally, the comments show how the proposed new rule is vague and, as a consequence, could include all sorts of unintended items. Read More

TSCL Comments on FDA Report “FDA Science and Mission at Risk: Report of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Health Law

On behalf of TREA Senior Citizens League (“TSCL”), we filed comments with the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) in opposition to the FDA’s Science Board Report Entitled “FDA Science and Mission at Risk: Report of the Subcommittee on Science and Technology.”

The Report asserts that the FDA is in danger of not being able to perform its mission without a vast and unprecedented doubling of funding. The Report admits that Subcommittee was “not [asked] to assess available resources,” yet it nevertheless focused on the inadequacy of current funding. The Report claims that American lives already are at risk because of work that the FDA has been unable to do, and that nothing would change without additional funding. Read More

Association of Priority Mail Users, Inc. Fourth Comments on Postal Rulemaking

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Postal Law

On behalf of the Association of Priority Mail Users, Inc., our firm filed Comments on Regulations Establishing a System of Ratemaking (PRC Docket No. RM2007-1) in response to Postal Regulatory Commission Order No. 26.  This is the fourth filing of comments by APMU in this most important docket.  We are attempting to fend off efforts to impose too high an overhead burden on competitive products, including Priority Mail. Read More