Today we filed our opening brief in the Sixth Circuit case of Gun Owners of America v. Barr — challenging the district court’s refusal to issue a preliminary injunction to stop the ATF total ban on the private ownership of bump stocks.
Today our firm filed a 28(j) letter with the Sixth Circuit, citing additional information in the D.C. Circuit cases of Guedes and Codrea. We point out that although the courts have issued stays in these and similar cases, the stays only apply to the specific appellants in each case, and do not grant the nationwide relief to bump stock owners being sought by Gun Owners of America, et al.
The ATF reclassification of bump stocks as machineguns will take effect on Tuesday, March 26. The federal district court in which we challenged this classification change has yet to rule on our motion for an injunction. Therefore, we were forced to file this emergency petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
The Sixth Circuit’s decision, issued today, addressed an issue that our amicus brief had raised, which had not been raised by the parties. That issue was whether the Harris Funeral Home qualified under the “ministerial exception” to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Sixth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the Funeral Home did not qualify. Unfortunately, the Harris Funeral Home — which was owned and administered by a Christian Family — had previously decided that it would not seek that protection — asserting that it was “not a religious organization.” The Sixth Circuit cited cases which have narrowed the ministerial exception to only overtly religious organizations such as churches. It is our view that many Christian business owners run their businesses very much like ministries. However, this is a concept that is foreign to many of the lawyers who work in this area, and the judges who rule on these cases who want the statutory exception to be interpreted as narrowly as possible.
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.
The City of Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky, enacted ordinances to prohibit discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” J. Barrett Hyman, M.D. held Biblical and constitutional objections to complying with these ordinances in his practice of obstetrics and gynecology, and his suit to have them declared unlawful was dismissed by the trial court. Our firm was retained to file an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit explaining the unconstitutional ambiguities inherent in these ordinances and why they should be declared void for vagueness.