Collins v. Commonwealth of Virginia

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a deeply flawed decision of the Virginia Supreme Court involving the Fourth Amendment.  The cased involved different ways that courts evaluate the constitutionality of searches and seizures.  The search in this case was of a motorcycle under a tarp located what is known as the “curtilage” of a home, or the area immediately surrounding it.  Under the deeply flawed rule the Virginia Supreme Court applied, the Fourth Amendment has no bearing at all whenever an automobile or anything that resembles an automobile is being searched, irrespective of where the automobile is located. Read More

Welch v. Brown

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, we filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in support of a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the Court to review a California ban on mental health providers pro-hetrosexual therapies to minors.  Interestingly, the California law, SB 1172, does not ban pro-homosexual therapies.  We reject the notion that the Free Exercise Clause was written to give special rights to religious people.  We explain that SB 1172 violates the Free Exercise Clause, which operates as a jurisdictional barrier to the power of States, barring California’s encroachment upon matters of opinion outside its civil jurisdiction.  We also demonstrated that the State’s inherent police power does not permit it to conditioning licensing in order to suppress politically correct and morally unpopular medical treatments under the guise of protecting minors. Read More

Peruta v. California

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

Today we filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petition for certiorari filed in the Peruta challenge to California concealed carry laws.  Our brief, however, urged the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to review a broader issue than that sought by the petitioners, and based on a more robust understanding of the protections afforded by Second Amendment than that urged by petitioners. Read More

Washington v. Trump

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today we filed a brief in support of rehearing by the Ninth Circuit en banc, of the Ninth Circuit’s motions panel denial of the Trump Administration’s motion for a stay of the Temporary Restraining Order issued by a federal district judge in Washington State enjoining operation of the President’s Executive Order on immigration and refugees.

We previously filed another brief in this case on February 6, 2017, in support of the Trump Administration’s motion for stay. Read More

USJF Legal Policy Paper: The Dangerous Proposal for an Article V Constitutional Convention

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Publications

Today, Bill Olson and Herb Titus co-authored a Legal Policy Paper for the United States Justice Foundation on the serious dangers associated with the calling of an Article V Constitutional Convention. The paper addressed two false premises underlying the proposal: 1. The problem of big government is found in the text of the U.S. Constitution, which can be corrected by changing the words of the document. 2. The only remedy to the problem of an out-of-control federal government is changing the Constitutional text. Additionally, our paper addressed the two false assurances being offered by those demanding that state legislatures put at risk all of our constitutional protections: 1. There is no danger of a Runaway Convention. 2. A small minority of the State Legislatures can stop bad proposals from being ratified. Read More

State of Washington v. Donald J. Trump

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today we filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in support of a motion to stay a Temporary Restraining Order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, which prohibited enforcement of several sections of President Trump’s recent Executive Order temporarily suspending entry of certain immigrants and refugees into the United States.

Link to brief

 

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Xavier Becerra

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

Today we filed a brief for the Free Speech Coalition and a large number of nonprofit orgainzations opposing efforts by the Attorney General of California to compel the disclosure by nonprofit organizations soliciting funds in that state of the names of their largest donors.

The issue in the case involves conditioning the ability to fundraise in California on disclosing confidential information to a politician — in this case, a state Attorney General.  Our brief explains why the First Amendment’s Anonymity principle applies, and why all such laws are unconstitutional licensing schemes.  We also explain why the federal tax scheme governing the filing of IRS Form 990 Schedule B’s protects the identity of donors, and that state officials can only obtain this information upon making a specific showing of illegal activity.  Therefore, this requirement, imposed by the Attorney General of California, is an unconstitutional prophylactic rule unrelated to any showing of fraud. Read More

Citizens United v. Schneiderman

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Nonprofit Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit opposing efforts by the Attorney General of New York from implementing new procedures requiring every nonprofit organization which solicits funds in that state to provide him with the names, addresses, and donation amounts of the organization’s largest donors.  Although the Attorney General of New York insists that the information would be kept by him and not shared with the public, the First Amendment protects Americans from divulging their anonymous political activities to politicians — especially highly political politicians like state attorney generals — who know how to use their discretionary power to chill the political activities of wealthy individuals. Read More

Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission

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

Today we filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeal filed by the Independent Institute challenging the disclosure requirements imposed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”) as applied to genuine issue ads.  BCRA compels the disclosure of donors to such ads over $1,000, with substantial civil and criminal penalties for failure to report this information publicly. Read More

Lund v. Rowan County

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today we filed a brief in support of the practice by the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to begin sessions with prayer. Predictably, the plaintiffs are deeply offended to hear the name of God mentioned, but their subjective feelings does not cause the public prayer by government officials to be transformed into a prohibited “establishment” of religion.

Link to brief

Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore v. Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission

Michael Harless Alabama Supreme Court, Constitutional Law

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Roy S. Moore, the elected Chief Justice of the State of Alabama, based on spurious grounds related to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in favor of same sex marriage.  Today, we filed a brief in support of the Chief Justice’s appeal of that decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.

In our 55-page brief, in addition to other issues, our brief takes on the distinctly unconstitutional notion that decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court constitute the Supreme Law of the Land. Read More

Graham v. United States

Michael Harless Constitutional 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 in a case involving a Fourth Amendment violation where a person’s whereabouts were tracked for months by seizing his cell site location information. We argued against the Supreme Court’s “third-party doctrine,” which holds that a person does not have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” if he voluntarily gives information to third parties. Further, the brief relied on the Court’s recently reinvigorated property rights basis of the Fourth Amendment, urging the Court to consider a person’s cell phone data and location as his property even though not a physical object. Read More

Wrenn v. District of Columbia

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in support of a challenge to the District of Columbia’s requirement that a person must demonstrate a “good reason” in order to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  Our brief noted that before Heller, the federal courts perpetuated the charade that the right of “the People” was a collective rather than an individual right.  Now, we argued, the lower courts are perpetuating a new charade — that rights which “shall not be infringed” can indeed be infringed so long as the government strongly desires to do so, and judges believe the regulations are reasonable.  Our brief argued that use of such “interest-balancing” tests permits judges to come to whatever result they prefer, as this case uniquely indicates. Read More

Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, opposing attempts by a girl with feelings of gender “dysphoria” to use Title IX to gain access to the boy’s bathrooms at her school.  Our brief argued that one’s sex is a scientific constant, and determined by the Creator.  Allowing a person’s feelings at any given time to define his gender permits individuals to decide whether and how the law applies to them.  Our brief pointed out that the ruling of the district court below is not limited to bathrooms, but could be applied broadly to grant access to opposite sex locker rooms, housing, athletic teams, and other gender-restricted areas.  Finally, our brief argued that the district court’s ruling sanctions sexual anarchy, and the day is not far away when a white male will “identify” as a black female in order, for example, to gain preferential treatment through reverse-discrimination (i.e., affirmative action) college admission policies.  Our brief was filed on behalf of Public Advocate of the United States, United States Justice Foundation, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. Read More

United States v. Texas

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the challenge filed by Texas and 25 other states to the Obama Administration’s DAPA amnesty program.  (We had earlier filed an amicus brief in support of Texas in this case in the Fifth Circuit, where Texas prevailed.)  Our brief explains why the Executive Branch had no authority (through DAPA or otherwise) to grant unilaterally “lawful presence” to approximately 4 million illegal aliens.  It also explains that such unilateral Executive Action violates the federal separation of powers.  Lastly, it explains why the sovereign States have the right to seek federal judicial review of such unlawful and unconstitutional executive actions as they constitute a constitutional “controversy” that must be decided by federal courts in accordance with Article III, Section 2, and that the traditional rules of standing do not apply. Read More

McDonnell v. United States

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On March 7, 2016, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s challenge to his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Our brief argues that setting and enforcing ethical standards applicable to state and local government officials is not among the enumerated powers vested in Congress.  Rather, such matters belong exclusively to the States and to the People of each State.  This exclusive state authority is protected not only by the Tenth Amendment, but also is secured to the States by the Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government.  It is the responsibility of elected State government officials to set the standards that govern communications and relationships between state and local officials and their constituents.  It is not for unelected federal prosecutors to have the power to bring down state and local officials.  If federal prosecutors are allowed to exercise such powers, what State official could be counted upon to do his duty to resist an overreach of federal power. Read More

Wikimedia Foundation v. National Security Agency

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today,we filed our third brief opposing NSA’s program of “Upstream” Internet surveillance of Americans.  Our brief urges the Fourth Circuit to reverse the decision of the District Court in Maryland which found that neither Wikimedia Foundation — which runs Wikipedia — nor the other plaintiffs in the case, had standing to challenge that surveillance.

Link to brief

Stormans, Inc. v. Wiesman

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

With our brief in Stormans, our firm has now made its 100th filing in the U.S. Supreme Court. Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending a Christian-owned pharmacy from attack by the Washington State Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission due to that pharmacy’s refusal to stock and sell abortifacient drugs.

Although the Pharmacy Commission is a government agency, its steps were largely directed by Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.
Our brief explained why the Pharmacy Commission had no basis for its rule narrowly designed to prevent pharmacies from acting on their moral and religious objections to stocking and dispensing certain types of pharmaceuticals.  Additionally, our brief demonstrated the real-world consequences of government taking sides in each political debate, so as to render unlawful any resistance to the agenda of a Secular Humanist state. Read More

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting two Texas laws requiring that abortions be performed only at certain types of facilities by physicians with  hospital admission privileges.   We set out why the pro-abortion petitioners, and the Obama Administration as amicus curiae, misrepresent to the Court its own abortion jurisprudence.  However, even more importantly, our brief explains why Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided. Read More

United States v. Graham

Jeremiah Morgan Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today our firm filed a brief supporting a Fourth Amendment challenge to the warrantless use of cell site location information.

The brief was filed on behalf of DownsizeDC.org, Downsize DC Foundation, United States Justice Foundation, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Institute on the Constitution.

Link to brief