Trump v. IRAP; Trump v. Hawaii

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Statutory Construction, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed our sixth brief in support of the Trump Immigration Executive Orders.  Three of those prior briefs were in the Ninth Circuit; one in the In the Fourth Circuit; and one in the U.S. Supreme Court.  In this brief, we set out four major arguments, on the critical issues which will be decided by the High Court..

First, we explain that as written and as applied the Establishment Clause only applies to efforts to “establish” a religion, and not supposedly disfavor a religion.  (That is why it is sometimes called the “no establishment” clause.)  We then explain the sources of the President’s authorities to restrict immigration and refugee admission. We discuss the vast power of the President over refugees.  Lastly, we discuss the phony finding of animus as a rationale for judicial usurpation of the power of the political branches.  (We even explain how the theories of Saul Alinsky could have helped fashion the complaint against President Trump. Read More

Zarda v. Altitude Express

Michael Harless Statutory Construction, U. S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Today, we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sitting en banc, where we are opposing efforts by radical homosexuals to convince liberal judges in New York to re-write the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination against homosexuals in employment.

Currently, the 1964 federal law bars discrimination in employment on the basis of “sex” and “race.”  However, in Zarda, lawyers for a homosexual skydiving instructor (since deceased from a skydiving accident) are claiming “sex” includes “sexual orientation,” and that Zarda was fired from his job because he was gay. Read More

United States v. Kettler

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

Today, we filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit as co-counsel for the defendant, Jeremy Kettler. Mr. Kettler was convicted in federal district court of possessing a firearm noise suppressor that was not registered to him pursuant to the National Firearms Act (“NFA”).

In purchasing his suppressor, Mr. Kettler had relied on the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act which states that a firearm or firearm accessory (such as a suppressor) that is manufactured, owned, and kept entirely within the borders of Kansas is not subject to any federal law. When Mr. Kettler revealed that he purchased such a suppressor, however, agents from the Obama Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (“ATF”) swooped in to make an example of Mr. Kettler, and his co-defendant Mr. Cox. Read More

In Re: Jackson Charitable Trust

Michael Harless Nonprofit Law, Pennsylvania Superior Court

This important case resolves an issue of Trust Law. It addresses the issue of the respective roles of Institutional Trustees and Individual
(Family) Trustees in making distributions when the Trust Instrument grants that authority to both. PNC bank refused to process the Jackson Family to make grants to conservative, pro-liberty, pro-free enterprise charities, on the theory that they were “political.” PNC Bank wanted money distributed almost exclusively to Pittsburgh area charities and those providing direct aid to the poor. The Pennsylvania Superior Court roundly rejected the position of PNC Bank, and upheld the Jackson Family on almost every issue. Read More

United States v. Seerden

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Today we filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in defense of a service member whose cell phone was searched and seized by the military in an unlawful manner.  As we have in the Jones case, the Graham case, the Zodhiates case, and others we explain how the Fourth Amendment first and foremost protects property rights, not some vague “reasonable expectation of privacy.” Read More

United States v. Zodhiates

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

Today we filed a brief in the Second Circuit challenging the Government’s use of cell phone location information obtained from a cell phone provider in response to a grand jury subpoena.  We explain that under the Jones and Jardines textual/historic analysis that the cell phone user has a protected privacy interest in these records.

Accordingly, under the Fourth Amendment, the Government must seek them by warrant issued from a judicial officer issued “upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Read More

Trump v. IRAP

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today we filed in the U.S. Supreme Court an amicus brief supporting President Trump’s challenge to the Fourth Circuit decision which approved a Maryland judge’s injunction against his Executive Order.  Our brief supports both President Trump’s application to stay this injunction, and supports his petition for certiorari.  The brief addressed three broad points.

First, we explain how the rationale underlying the district and circuit court decision undermines the President’s inherent and statutory authority to control immigration into the United States.  We ask the Court to consider whether this rationale could also be applied to enjoin Presidentially ordered military operations against Islamic nations. Read More

Soto v. Bushmaster

Michael Harless Firearms Law, Supreme Court of Connecticut

Today, May 30, 2017, we filed an amicus brief in the Connecticut Supreme Court in support of gun manufacturers Bushmaster and Remington, who had been sued by the families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

The plaintiffs in the case had brought a “negligent entrustment” claim, arguing that the AR-15 style rifle should never have been sold because it was foreseeable that it would be used in the crime.  However, as we pointed out, neither the manufacturer, distributor, nor dealer did anything wrong with respect to this particular sale — the essence of a legal negligent entrustment claim.  Rather, the Plaintiffs instead were making the policy argument that generally no one should ever be permitted to sell any AR-15.  In other words, they were asking judges to legislate to ban AR-15 style rifles. Read More

EEOC v. Harris Funeral Home

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Statutory Construction, U. S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

Today we filed a brief in the Sixth Circuit supporting a Christian Funeral Home in a suit by the EEOC on behalf of a man employed by that funeral home who would like to dress in women’s clothing for one year as he “transitions.”   The EEOC made the naked assertion that the claim for this employee was supported by the text of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but failed to explain it.  (The provision relating to “sex” was inserted into the bill by Virginia Congressman Howard W. Smith to prohibit discrimination against women, as a poison pill to kill the bill, but it passed anyway.)  The EEOC relied solely on the Supreme Court’s 1989 decision in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, which was said to prohibit “sexual stereotyping.”  Our brief explains the weaknesses in that decision, and why it does not apply here.  Lastly, we explained why the EEOC provision would undermine the funeral home’s Christian witness. Read More

G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board

Michael Harless Statutory Construction, U. S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Today we filed our third amicus brief defending the Gloucester County School Board against an ACLU challenge on behalf of a girl who would like to be a boy.  The prior litigation involved the Obama Administration’s directives to the School Board to open the boys room and boys locker and shower facilities to Gavin Grimm.  However, President Trump rescinded those guidance letters.  Therefore, the question before the Fourth Circuit no longer whether deference should be paid to the Executive Branch, but whether federal law requires School Boards to allow students to use whatever facilities they may choose to use based on the sex with which they may self-identify.  This brief was a Supplemental Brief filed in the Fourth Circuit on that statutory issue. Read More

Brewer v. Arizona Dream Act (DACA)

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, our firm was honored to have filed its 100th amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court.  This brief supported a petition for certiorari filed by the state of Arizona.  Arizona is seeking to have the Supreme Court review and reject a Ninth Circuit opinion which struck down Arizona’s decision not to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens who are part of President Obama’s unconstitutional DACA program. Read More

Comments filed with the FDA regarding its restrictions on use of the word “healthy”

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Health Law

Today, our firm filed comments with the FDA in response to the agency’s request for input regarding its regulation of the term “healthy” in the labeling of food.  In recent years, FDA’s current regulatory scheme has led to absurd results, such as where avocados and almonds were not considered healthy, while Poptarts and Frosted Flakes were.  Now FDA purports to replace its bad regulations with more regulations. Read More

Hawaii v. Trump

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

Today, our firm filed its fourth brief in support of President Trump’s effort to impose immigration controls.  This brief supported President Trump’s second Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017 — to secure our borders against entry by those coming from select countries where their background cannot be checked.

Our first two briefs were filed in the Washington State challenge, in the Ninth Circuit — one on February 6, 2017 and one on February 16, 2017, with respect to the first Trump Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017.  Our third brief was filed in the Fourth Circuit in litigation brought by IRAP on March 31, 2017. Read More

National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

Today, we filed an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court in support of a petition to protect the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in California.  The California Reproductive FACT Act requires these pro-life centers to disseminate to those who seek its services, information explaining the easy availability of taxpayer subsidized abortion.  Our brief explains that this state law violates the Declaration of Independence’s recognition of protected “unalienable rights,” violates the law of our Creator, violates the Constitution’s Free Speech protections, and violates the Free Exercise Clause.  Lastly, we explain that the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding this law has no limiting principle, and therefore could next be used to ban entirely Crisis Pregnancy Centers across the state. Read More

United States v. Ackerman

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. District Court, District of Kansas

Today, we filed an amicus brief in support of a motion to suppress evidence in a criminal case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.  The case is on remand from an appeal to the Tenth Circuit which resulted in a decision written by Judge (now Justice) Neil Gorsuch.  Gorsuch had pointed out that the search of an email with its attachments could constitute a violation of the email owner’s property interest protected by the Fourth Amendment, applying the Supreme Court’s United States v. Jones principle.  Our amicus brief pointed out that the Jones property principle is primary, but also, the search of the email violated the defendant’s privacy interest in the communications. Read More

Patriotic Veterans v. Curtis Hill, Attorney General of Indiana

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

Today we co-counseled the filing of a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Patriotic Veterans, a nonprofit organization based in Illinois.  This Petition brings to the High Court a First Amendment challenge to an Indiana law barring most nonprofit organizations from using automated dialing equipment to conduct issue advocacy and grassroots lobbying.  Our Petition explains that the First Amendment, as reaffirmed by a long line of Supreme Court decisions, vests in each homeowner the right to decide whether to receive a visitor at a door, and that same principle applies to receiving a message delivered by telephone.  State legislators are often annoyed when constituents learn what bills are pending, and what is going on behind closed doors in the legislature.  They are particularly annoyed when constituents besiege them with messages telling them how they want them to vote.  However, state legislators have no right to enact laws to shut down issue advocacy and grassroots lobbying, intruding themselves between nonprofit organizations like Patriotic Veterans and the people of Indiana. Read More

IRAP v. Trump

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

Today, our firm filed its third brief in support of President Trump’s effort to impose immigration controls.  Our brief supported President Trump’s effort to secure our borders against entry by those coming from select countries where their background cannot be checked.  This brief was filed in the Fourth Circuit — with respect to the second Trump Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017. Read More

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

Hamilton v. Pallozzi

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

Today, we filed our second amicus brief in this case, in support of a petition for rehearing en banc in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  We urged the Fourth Circuit to rehear the case, because the panel decision ignored the requirements of the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause.  The issue involved a Maryland resident’s right to purchase and possess firearms despite the judicial removal of disability to own firearms by a Virginia court after a Virginia conviction. 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

Gloucester County v GG — Update — SCOTUS asks parties how to proceed after Trump withdraws transgender guidance

Michael Harless Administrative Law

Today,the U.S. Supreme Court Clerk has asked the parties to file by March 1 for letters explaining their views on how the Gloucester County v. GG case should proceed in view of the Trump Administration change of policy.

We filed two briefs in the Gloucester v. GG case:
1. Amicus Brief In the Fourth Circuit — May 10, 2016
2. Amicus Brief In the Supreme Court on the Merits — on January 10, 2017 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