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

Grace v. District of Columbia

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

Today, we filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of a challenge to the D.C. Concealed Carry statute which was brought by Matthew Grace and others.  Our brief argues that the District of Columbia Council based its argument on the notion of hidden exceptions to the Bill of Rights, and a flawed understanding of the difference between the restricted nature of firearms rights in England versus the unrestricted nature of firearms rights in the Colonies.  Our brief also argues that it is illegitimate for the Court to engage in judicial balancing tests of any type, as they were barred by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller.  Lastly, we argued that the government does not have the authority to make predictive judgments as to who may violate the law and restrict liberties to prevent crimes that it fears may someday occur. 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

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