Hamilton v. Pallozzi

Michael Harless Firearms 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 supporting the right of a Maryland resident to purchase and possess firearms despite a prior conviction. Hamilton had been convicted of a non-violent felony in Virginia and served his sentence. Later, Virginia restored his civil rights, and then a Virginia Court specifically restored his firearms rights.

Now living in Maryland, Hamilton has been told that Maryland will not recognize the restoration of his firearms rights by a Virginia Court.  Our brief explains that under the U.S. Constitution’s “Full Faith & Credit Clause,” Maryland may not refuse to give recognition to the Virginia court’s restoration of rights, and argument that had not been made by Hamilton. 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

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

Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Harris
Thomas More Law Center v. Harris

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

Today we filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit for the Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, the Free Speech Coalition and other nonprofits attacking a new interpretation of law by the the California Attorney General.  Under this new interpretation, as a per-condition to soliciting contributions in California, each charity must provide provide the Attorney General with its IRS Form 990 Schedule B which identifies the charity’s largest donors Read More

United States v. Monifa J. Sterling

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Court of Appeals, Armed Forces

Today our firm filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces an amicus brief defending the right of a United States Marine to post small signs containing Bible verses at her work station.

Marine Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling printed and taped a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:17 at three places around her workspace:  “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.”  The three locations were designed to represent the Trinity, that is, the three persons of the Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Her Staff Sergeant twice ordered Sterling to take the display down.  Sterling twice refused, explaining that the signs were based on her religion, meant for her alone, and not meant to offend anyone.  Sterling was court-martialed for several offenses including disobeying the orders to remove her signs.  Sterling appealed her conviction on the grounds that the order to remove her signs violated her First Amendment Free Exercise rights and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Read More

Hollis v. Lynch — Amicus Brief

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

Today, our firm filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit an amicus brief in support of a challenge to the federal machine gun ban, ironically passed as part of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act.

Under the Gun Control Act (“GCA”), “persons” are generally prohibited from possessing machineguns. A “person” is defined to include entities such a corporation and partnership – but the definition does not include a trust. Moreover, in 2014, ATF took the position that “unincorporated trusts are not ‘persons’ under the GCA.” Based on that understanding that trusts are not persons, the Jay Aubrey Isaac Hollis Revocable Living Trust applied to the ATF for approval to manufacture and register an M-16 machinegun. When ATF eventually revoked the application, the Trust sued, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas dismissed the case. Read More

Silvester v. Harris — Amicus Brief

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in support of a challenge to California’s 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases. One of the most draconian states when it comes to Second Amendment rights, California forces its residents to wait 10 days after a purchase before a lawful buyer may acquire a lawful firearm.

First, our brief dispelled the notion that California’s waiting period is “presumptively lawful” under Heller as a “condition on commercial sales of arms.” Second, our brief showed that waiting periods for firearm purchases do not fall within any of Heller’s “presumptively lawful” categories of regulations. Finally, our brief argued that, while the district court below correctly determined that the waiting period is unconstitutional, it did so for the wrong reasons. The district court based its decision not on the text and context of the Second Amendment, but on the same type of judicially-devised interest balancing test that the Supreme Court rejected in Heller. Read More

Texas v. United States — Amicus Brief

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

Today, our firm filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, supporting the challenge by State of Texas and 25 other states to the Obama Administration’s misuse of “executive action” (“DAPA”) to implement provisions of the DREAM Act that Congress refused to enact.

Our brief was filed on behalf of Citizens United, Citizens United Foundation, English First Foundation, English First, TREA Senior Citizens League, U.S. Justice Foundation, The Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Abraham Lincoln Foundation for Public Policy Research, Inc., U.S. Border Control Foundation, Policy Analysis Center, Institute on the Constitution, and Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund. Read More

Peruta v. San Diego, Richards v. County of Yolo — Amicus Brief

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

Today our firm filed a brief supporting the right to “bear” arms in California. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit previously handed down an opinion striking down San Diego County’s policy under which “self-defense” was not considered to be a “good cause” allowing the issuance of a concealed carry permit. Now, the Ninth Circuit decided to re-hear the case en banc. The Peruta case was consolidated with another case, Richards v. County of Yolo, which challenged Yolo County’s “good cause” policy. Our brief addressed issues in both cases. Read More

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

Kolbe v. O’Malley — Amicus brief

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

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court determined that the Second Amendment protected every citizen’s right to “keep and bear arms” in its 2008 Heller decision, lower federal courts have sought to evade the application of that rule. That pattern is now continuing in Maryland where a district judge has upheld the Maryland 2013 Firearms Safety Act (“Act”) which bans (i) so-called “assault weapons” and (ii) so-called “large-capacity magazines” that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Read More

Heller v. District of Columbia — Amicus Brief

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, Firearms 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, supporting another challenge by the legendary Dick Heller to the District of Columbia’s onerous firearm registration and licensing requirements. This is our firm’s third amicus brief supporting Heller’s challenges to these DC gun regulations. In 2008, the Supreme Court adopted the type of analysis recommended by our first amicus brief. Read More

Jackson v. City & County of San Francisco — Amicus Brief

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

Today, our firm filed a brief to uphold gun rights in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in support of a Petition for Rehearing En Banc, in the case Jackson v. San Francisco, No. 12-17803.

San Francisco ordinances prohibit the possession of a handgun within the home unless it is (i) being worn on the person or (ii) locked away. San Francisco also prohibits the purchase of hollowpoint ammunition within city limits. A panel of three judges from the Ninth Circuit had upheld the ordinances on the ground that they “limit but do not destroy Second Amendment rights,” standing in stark contrast to the text of the Second Amendment which states clearly that the right “shall not be infringed.” Read More

Shew v. Malloy — Amicus Brief

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

Our firm filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit an amicusbrief in support of Connecticut gun owners who challenged Connecticut’s ban of so-called “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines.”

The law being challenged was passed by anti-gun Connecticut legislators and signed by an anti-gun Governor, riding a wave of hysteria following the December 2012 mass murder of elementary school children in Newtown, Connecticut. Those supporting the law claimed that to stop the violence “military style” weapons must be banned. Read More

Christopher Hedges v. Barack Obama, et al. Amicus Brief for U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman, et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

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

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Christopher Hedges v.Barack Obama, et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in support of appellees and affirmance. This lawsuit challenges the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) of 2012’s illegal detention provision. Our firm also filed an amicus brief earlier in this case with the district court. Read More

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

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

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Raymond Woollard, et al. v. Denis Gallagher, et al. in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in support of plaintiffs-appellees and affirmance.

This case involves a challenge to the constitutionality of the State of Maryland’s handgun permit statute and regulatory scheme. Maryland requires an applicant for a license to carry a handgun to demonstrate that he has “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun. Plaintiff Woollard previously had been granted a handgun carry permit. Unable to produce evidence of a current threat, Woollard’s request for a renewal of the permit was denied. Woollard and an association of gun owners, Second Amendment Foundation, challenged the Maryland license requirement, arguing that the “good and substantial reason” requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” 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

MSSA v. Holder, Amicus Brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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

Today our firm filed an amicus brief for Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, and Virginia Citizens Defense League in the case ofMontana Shooting Sports Association, et al. v. Eric H. Holder, Jr. in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of reversal. We previously filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana Missoula Division on April 12, 2010. Read More

Virginia v. Sebelius, Amicus Brief for Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall et al. U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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

Today our firm filed an amicus brief in the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on behalf of Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, Gun Owners of America, Inc., Gun Owners Foundation, American Life League, Inc., Institute on the Constitution, the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Public Advocate of the United States, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Liberty Committee, Downsize DC Foundation, DownsizeDC.org, and Policy Analysis Center. Read More

Nordyke v. King Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Appellants U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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

Today, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief filed in support of the challenge by appellants to portions of the county code of Alameda County, California. The challenged provisions ban possession of firearms on county property.

The ordinance was introduced by a county Supervisor who, in her own words, wanted to “ban gun shows.” The county claims it was responding to gun violence, but the reality is that the county was simply trying to keep peaceful gun owners from gathering to buy and sell firearms. Read More

Heller II Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Appellants U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia

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

On July 30, 2010, in the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, our firm filed the only amicus curiae brief filed in support of the challenge by appellant Dick Heller and others to portions of the D.C. Code that (i) require registration of all firearms, (ii) prohibit registration of so-called “assault weapons” and (iii) prohibit possession of so-called “high capacity” magazines.

Our brief argues that the District Court erred when it upheld the District’s laws employing “intermediate scrutiny” – a judicially created standard of review that permits laws that are “reasonably related to an important government interest.” Our brief demonstrates that the Supreme Court has rejected such “interest balancing” standards of review in both the Heller Iand McDonald cases. Instead, once a court determines that a person is part of “the people” and that the weapon is one of the “arms” protected by the Second Amendment, the amendment provides its own standard of review — “shall not be infringed.” Read More