Monday, July 30, 2018

Punching Back Twice As Hard

With the settlement in the Defense Distributed and SAF's lawsuit against the State Department, the gun prohibitionists have gone bonkers. They realize, correctly I might add, that the ability to make one's own firearm is the death knell for gun control. Particularly egregious have been the actions of the Attorney General of New Jersey, Gurbir Grewal, and the City Attorney of Los Angeles, Michael Feuer. Both have sent threatening letters to Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed demanding he not put his CNC and 3-D printing files online.

In response, Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation filed suit yesterday in US District Court for the Western District of Texas naming both of these individuals in both their official and individual capacities. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against their treats as well as for compensatory damages due to lost advertising fees and attorney fees. I anticipate the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be added to this suit as they have sought a temporary restraining order to prevent Defense Distributed from making their files available to Pennsylvania residents. As with LA and New Jersey IP addresses, those from Pennsylvania will be blocked for the time being.

The complaint says that the defendants have waged "an ideologically-fueled program of intimidation and harassment" against Defense Distributed. It goes on to say:
Alas these state and municipal officers from across the country cannot veto Defense Distributed’s constitutionally-protected and federally-licensed speech. The Defendants’ threatened legal actions violate the First Amendment speech rights of Defense Distributed and its audience, including SAF’s members; run afoul of the Dormant Commerce Clause; infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of those who would make use of the knowledge disseminated by Defense Distributed; constitute a tortious interference with Defense Distributed’s business; and are in any event, federally pre-empted by Congress’s export control laws as well as Defense Distributed’s export license, by which the State Department has explicitly authorized the speech that the Defendants are seeking to silence. Plaintiffs are entitled to declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, and attorney fees.
The actions of the officials of New Jersey, Los Angeles, and now Pennsylvania are an assault on the First and Second Amendments. Moreover, the suit alleges their actions interfere in matters where Federal law is supreme including interstate commerce and export control law. It should be noted that this court has already turned down an attempt by a coalition of gun prohibitionists groups to interfere in the settlement between Defense Distributed and the State Department.

The attorneys for Defense Distributed are Alan Gura and Prof. Josh Blackman.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Green Wall Between NC And Tennessee

I had to meet with a couple of clients today in the Tri-Cities area of Tennessee and Virginia. Driving up Interstate 26 and crossing into Tennessee at Sams Gap (Elevation 3,760) it struck me that the border between Tennessee and North Carolina is essentially a green wall of mountains from the south to the north. You can see some of the ridges of my drive on this webpage and in the picture below.

In TN looking NW towards Johnson City
When I cross the state line on Interstate 40 from Haywood County, NC to Cocke County, TN, I have to drive through the Pigeon River gorge. Again, it is a green wall.

It is no wonder that the Appalachian Trail runs along the state line for about 200 miles.

The roughness of the borderlands between the two states got me to thinking about how determined and hardy the first white settlers who crossed from NC to TN must have been. It is no wonder that the state of Tennessee (or the State of Franklin) was settled first by Virginians and not by North Carolinians.
The first settlement in Tennessee; that is, the North Holston settlement in the present county of Sullivan, and the South Holston settlement, on the Watauga, in the present county of Washington, were effected between the treaty of Hard Labor in 1768, and the experimental survey of the Virginia-North Carolina line in 1771, while all the territory so settled was still believed to be a part of Virginia. There are geographical reasons sufficient to explain why the founders of these settlements should have come, in the main, from Virginia rather than from North Carolina. In the first place, the Blue Ridge that separates Virginia from Tennessee numbers among its range of towering hills Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains, and was at that time almost impassable.a Even as experienced and able woodsman as James Robertson, when crossing the range in 1770, was lost in the trackless mountains and wandered, without food, for fourteen days; and finally owed his extrication to his good fortune in meeting up with some hunters, who relieved his distress and enabled him to reach his home in safety. On the other hand, the Appalachian Valley was an easy and natural route from Pennsylvania and Virginia to the Southwest. When the watershed changed from the Alleghany Mountains to the Blue Ridge, it left the valley open, like the mouth of a funnel, to empty the population from the eastern watershed in Virginia to the western watershed in North Carolina; whose north line had not yet been located and was still unknown.
Until I read this, I didn't realize that the westward migration into Tennessee actually was more of southwestward migration and not due west from the coastal plains and Piedmont sections of North Carolina. Nonetheless, those early settlers of the Volunteer State, whether from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, or North Carolina were hardy men and women and I salute them.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Win For Carry In The 9th Circuit

I know you are probably saying, "what the hell? The 9th Circuit?" It is true. Today the 9th Circuit issued its opinion in Young v. State of Hawaii. The 2-1 decision found that the Second Amendment does protect the right to openly carry a firearm in public for self-defense. You will remember in Peruta v. San Diego that the 9th Circuit ruling en banc said there was no constitutional right to carry concealed in public and that the Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari on appeal.

From Reuters:
The ruling issued by a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, came a year after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule either way on the carrying of guns in public.

Two of the three 9th Circuit judges voted to reverse a decision by the U.S. District Court in Hawaii that state officials did not infringe on the rights of George Young, the plaintiff, in twice denying him a permit to carry a gun outside.

“We do not take lightly the problem of gun violence,” Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote in Tuesday’s ruling. “But, for better or for worse, the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”
 I would be extremely surprised if this decision does not go to an en banc hearing in the 9th Circuit.

I have not had time to read the whole decision but you can read it here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Tidbit From Judge Kavanaugh's Questionnaire

All nominees for Federal judicial nominations submit answers to a standardized questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The questionnaire has answers to questions regarding everything from date of birth and education to significant cases in which the nominee participated.

The questionnaire for Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been received by the Senate Judiciary Committee is now online. Scanning through it I found this tidbit. Question 13 (i) asks the nominee to provide citations to significant opinions that he or she authored on federal or state constitutional issues.

Number one on Judge Kavanaugh's list is his dissent in Heller II (Heller v. District of Columbia, 670 F.3d 1244 (D.C. Circuit, 2011) (Kavanaugh, J., dissenting). These citations are not listed in chronological order which would seem to indicate that Judge Kavanaugh considers this dissent one of his most important opinions.

I like that and it speaks well to where he stands on the Second Amendment. It gives me hope that future Second Amendment cases might just get a hearing once Judge Kavanaugh becomes Justice Kavanaugh.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

What Wonderful Dissents In Mance V. Holder (now Sessions)

Mance et al v. Holder et al was a case brought in Texas that sought to overturn the Gun Control Act of 1968's ban on the sale and immediate transfer by FFLs of handguns to out of state purchasers. It was a win at the District Court level when Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas ruled that part of the Gun Control Act unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, the government appealed their loss to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and won in January. The plaintiffs including the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms appealed and sought an en banc review.  This was turned down in an 8-7 vote that was released on Friday.

What is most notable about this loss are the dissents from this decision. They make it abundantly clear that there are still some appellate level judges who value the Second Amendment.

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee, had this to say in part:
Simply put, unless the Supreme Court instructs us otherwise, we should apply a test rooted in the Second Amendment’s text and history—as required under Heller and McDonald— rather than a balancing test like strict or intermediate scrutiny.
Judge Elrod then ends her dissent with a quote from Judge Brett Kavanaugh's dissent in the Heller II case.

Following Judge Elrod's dissent is one from Judge Don Willett that is, in my opinion, absolutely wonderful. I won't quote the whole thing but I feel like it.
Constitutional scholars have dubbed the Second Amendment “the Rodney Dangerfield of the Bill of Rights.” As Judge Ho relates, it is spurned as peripheral, despite being just as fundamental as the First Amendment. It is snubbed as anachronistic, despite being just as enduring as the Fourth Amendment. It is scorned as fringe, despite being just as enumerated as the other Bill of Rights guarantees.

The Second Amendment is neither second class, nor second rate, nor second tier. The “right of the people to keep and bear Arms” has no need of penumbras or emanations. It’s right there, 27 words enshrined for 227 years.
The core issue in this case is undeniably weighty: Does the federal criminalization of interstate handgun sales offend We the People’s “inherent right of self-defense?” This merits question turns upon a method question: What level of judicial scrutiny applies to laws burdening the Second Amendment? In other words, when the government abridges your individual gun-ownership rights, how generous is the constitutional strike zone?
Judge Willett goes on to note that this case deals with a matter of exceptional importance and that it adds a significant methodological component in how Second Amendment cases should be decided - tiers of scrutiny vs. "text, history, and tradition".

Finally, Judge James Ho takes issue with what he calls a prophylactic ban saying it is not narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest. He also states that he would have voted to affirm the District Court's judgement. His dissent may also be one of the first times the word "hoplophobia" was used in a decision.
No one disputes that the Government has a compelling interest in preventing dangerous individuals from purchasing handguns. But as the district court held, and the panel properly assumed, handgun restrictions must be narrowly tailored to serve that interest. Law-abiding Americans should not be conflated with dangerous criminals. Constitutional rights must not give way to hoplophobia.

The ban on interstate handgun sales fails strict scrutiny. After all, a categorical ban is precisely the opposite of a narrowly tailored regulation. It applies to all citizens, not just dangerous persons. Instead of requiring citizens to comply with state law, it forbids them from even trying. Nor has the Government demonstrated why it needs a categorical ban to ensure compliance with state handgun laws. Put simply, the way to require compliance with state handgun laws is to require compliance with state handgun laws.

The Government’s defense of the federal ban—that state handgun laws are too complex to obey—is not just wrong under established precedent, it is troubling for a more fundamental reason. If handgun laws are too complex for law-abiding citizens to follow, the answer is not to impose even more restrictive rules on the American people. The answer is to make the laws easier for all to understand and follow. The Government’s proposed prophylaxis—to protect against the violations of the few, we must burden the constitutional rights of the many—turns the Second Amendment on its head. Our Founders crafted a Constitution to promote the liberty of the individual, not the convenience of the Government.
I would love to see this case come before the Supreme Court with a Justice Kavanaugh on it. I doubt he would need to recuse himself just because his own words were quoted in the dissents.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Will This Be Considered A School Shooting?

It seems any act of violence with a firearm in or near a school is considered a "school shooting". It matters not that the act of violence had nothing to do with the school, happened after hours, or involved no one affiliated with the school as either the shooter or the victim(s).

By now many, if not most, have seen the shootout during a car chase between Las Vegas Metro Police and two suspects in black Ford Expedition. All the major mainstream news channels have shown video from it. The shootout featured one officer shooting at the fleeing suspects through his windshield. This was after the suspects started shooting at the police chasing them. If you are like me, you worried that he would have permanent hearing loss.

You can watch and listen to the chase from the body camera footage of Officer William Umana who is a 17 year veteran of LVMPD.

At the end of the chase you can see the SUV crash into a wall. That wall is part of Howard Hollingsworth Elementary School in Las Vegas.

Thus the question will be do the gun control prohibitionists and their media allies consider this a "school shooting"?  Obviously it isn't but that hasn't stopped them in the past.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

SHOT Show Expanding

The Las Vegas Review-Journal is reporting that the SHOT Show will be expanding their venues in order to allow more exhibitors. While the Sands Expo Center will still be the primary location through 2027, they will expand to the MGM Grand Convention Center in 2020 and to the planned Caesars Forum in 2021.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently signed a contract with MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. to bring the four-day trade show to their future convention spaces, said Chris Dolnack, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the Connecticut-based foundation.
The SHOT Show has a number of companies on a waiting list for either exhibition space or for the chance to expand their booths. Currently, they have about 1,000 companies waiting for space according to Chris Dolnack who heads the SHOT Show. The amount of space will expand from 650,000 square feet of exhibition space to over 950,000 square feet of space by 2021 when the Caesars Forum comes online.

Scheduled to open in December 2018
Dolnack made the point that the SHOT Show is not just firearms companies but also ammunition, optics, and other manufacturers.
Exhibitor growth is coming from cartridge, equipment and optics manufacturers as well as producers of accessories, he said. More than 400 equipment manufacturers exhibited at the show this year.

“By further diversifying the show and having a larger number of new companies, we will attract retailers every year that may currently come every other year,” Dolnack said by telephone on Tuesday.

“No one ever walks into a show and says ‘show me what is old.’ This will give retailers the opportunity to see several hundred new companies and pick up some more products.”
The Caesars Forum is expected to cost approximately $375 million and open sometime in 2020. The Forum will be located behind LINQ with the Flamingo and Harrahs on either side of it.

Artist rendition from Caesars Entertainment
 I would imagine that the convention industry in Las Vegas is pretty excited by this. If you think about it, you will now include most of the length of the Strip in the SHOT Show. It will be anchored by the Sands Expo on the north and the MGM Grand Convention Center on the south with Caesars Forum occupying a mid-Strip location.

I think this is a great expansion but the amount of walking will increase exponentially. I know I usually walk miles daily at the SHOT Show and this will only increase it. I still wish they'd consider holding it in Orlando or other eastern US location but given the contract with Sands goes through 2027 I can keep wishing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Do You Want Sunday Hunting On Game Lands In NC?

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is conducting an online survey now through the end of August to determine if there is interest in opening up certain public game lands to Sunday hunting. The restriction on Sunday hunting with a firearm had been in place since 1869. However, in 2015, the General Assembly removed this restriction from private land. In 2017, the General Assembly gave public land managers including the Wildlife Resources Commission the authority to implement new options for hunting on public lands including game lands.

My own feelings are that banning Sunday hunting on game lands discriminates against those for whom their Sabbath is a day other than Sunday. This would include Seventh Day Adventists and Jews among others. Furthermore, the average work week is Monday through Friday which leaves Saturday as the only hunting day for many people. Finally, it is in the public interest to encourage the growth of the hunting population for a variety of reasons including not the least of which that hunters support conservation management with their licenses and ammo purchases.

To take the survey, go here. I see no restriction that says it is limited to North Carolinians.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Legal Gator Hunting Comes To North Carolina

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission announced yesterday that they were going to have a (very!) limited alligator hunting season in 2018. The hunt will be by permit only with a total of 20 permits issued. Alligator hunting will be limited to three areas within Hyde County in coastal eastern North Carolina.

If you ever aspired to be the Troy Landry of North Carolina, it won't be cheap. Resident permits will be $250 and non-resident permits will be $500.

More details including links are in the NCWRC press release below:
RALEIGH, N.C. (July 16, 2018) —The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is offering permitted hunting opportunities for alligator population reduction hunts in three designated areas of Hyde County only. Hyde County requested a targeted hunt to reduce numbers of alligators in areas of Swan Quarter, Fairfield and Engelhard with frequent alligator conflicts. Commission staff worked with Hyde County officials to evaluate the request and recommended an addendum to the Alligator Management Plan that would allow counties to request a population reduction hunt for unincorporated areas. The Commission approved the addendum at their July 12 business meeting.

Applications for the alligator permit hunt opportunities are available for purchase now through Friday, Aug. 10. Applicants must be 16 years of age or older and there is an $8 application fee for each of the designated hunt areas.

Applications are only available for purchase online using a Visa or MasterCard, by calling 888-248-6834 or in-person at Commission Headquarters, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday – Friday. Due to an expected increase in call volume, the Wildlife Commission advises purchasing a permit application online. Those who may experience difficulty using the website should update their web browser to a more current version.

A computerized drawing will award five permits in Swan Quarter, five permits in Fairfield and 10 permits in Engelhard. The permits will be valid from Sept. 1 through Oct. 1, 2018 in the designated areas around these communities only.

Applicants awarded a permit will be required to obtain an alligator hunting license no later than 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20. Those who fail to purchase the alligator hunting license by the deadline specified will forfeit their permit and an alternate applicant will be awarded the permit. An alligator hunting license costs $250 for North Carolina residents and $500 for non-residents.

The bag limit for permit holders is one alligator per permit with a season limit of one alligator per permittee. Permittees will be required to complete a harvest survey and allow Commission staff to collect biological data from the harvested alligator.

For more information on application requirements, designated hunt areas and regulations, visit

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Amazon Prime Day Starts Tomorrow

Amazon Prime Day starts tomorrow at 3pm EDT. It will be 36 hours of specials for Amazon Prime members. However, you can sign up for a 30-day free Prime trial and cancel it before the end of the 30 days without having to pay a thing.

It is my understanding the products like Kindles and Alexa will be offered at up to 50% off. The Complementary Spouse loves her Kindle Fire(s).

The reason that I'm posting about Amazon Prime Day is that this blog is an Amazon Associate. The monies earned from commissions on your purchases are donated in their entirety to gun rights groups such as the Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund. So linking through No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money costs you nothing but will help raise money to help preserve our gun rights.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Stupid Party Strikes Again

The Republican Party is often derisively called the Stupid Party because of the dumb stuff it does. Things like firing my friend Rachel Malone or things like caving to demands from people who will never vote for them. The latter is the case in North Carolina with the Republicans in the North Carolina Senate.

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence (sic), NCGV, a wholly owned subsidiary of Michael Bloomberg's Everytown Moms for Illegal Mayors, sent out an email early this morning touting their achievement in stopping HB 746 which would have allowed permitless concealed carry. This bill had passed the North Carolina House but stalled in the Senate.

From NCGV:
As reported in previous updates, NCGV was on the lookout for the Senate to taking up HB746, the gun omnibus bill that included permitless carry. If this bill would have passed it would mean that people as young as 18 years old with no training and no background check could carry a hidden loaded weapon in public. Because of NCGV pressure and support, the Senate did not consider the bill. We are proud to report that your support made sure that this bill did not even receive a committee hearing on the Senate side.

As a secondary matter, NCGV spoke with legislators and allies about ensuring that our teachers would not be allowed to concealed carry in schools.

The aadjournment (sic) resolution was not sine die and legislators have scheduled a session in November, presumably to take up matters relating to the amendments. Although the bill is technically not dead, it is incredibly unlikely to be taken up during that fall session.

During the interim, legislators restated their commitment to expanding school safety, studying what more can be done, and working with community partners. NCGV will be in any relevant meetings as they take place during the interim.
So you have a group opposed to civil rights crowing that their pressure stopped Majority Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and the Republicans in the State Senate from even holding hearings on HB 746 which was an omnibus firearms bill which included permitless concealed carry. Please bear in mind that Republicans hold veto-proof super-majorities in both houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. Please also bear in mind that probably not one person in 100 that supports NCGV will even vote for a Republican for dog catcher. They consider themselves the NC equivalent of "The Resistance".

Has the Republican Party of North Carolina never heard of the old adage that you reward your friends and punish your enemies?

As that great Southern philosopher Forrest Gump famously said, "Stupid is as stupid does."

California Sued By Coalition Of Gun Rights Groups Over AWB Registration Disasters

The Second Amendment Foundation, the Calguns Foundation, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and the Firearms Policy Foundation have come together to sue the California Department of Justice, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and the head of the California Bureau of Firearms. Their complaint, filed in Shasta County Superior Court, is a constitutional challenge to the bullet button registration system and a writ of mandamus requiring the state to allow people to register as required under state law. That last bit might sound confusing but people had until July 1st to register their bullet buttons. The only problem is that many people were not able to do so because the system crashed. It's a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.

From their joint release:
The lawsuit argues that DOJ’s “bullet-button assault weapon” registration system was defective, often “crashing” completely, and the various failures prevented many gun owners from complying with the laws—potentially turning people into felons overnight.

SACRAMENTO, CA (July 11, 2018) — Today, attorneys for three gun owners and four civil rights organizations filed a new lawsuit and petition for writ of mandate that claims California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and his Department of Justice (DOJ) violated their civil rights protected under the state and federal constitutions. A copy of the complaint can be viewed or downloaded at

The lawsuit, captioned Harry Sharp, et al. v. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et al., is supported by The Calguns Foundation (CGF), Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF). Named as defendants are California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Acting Chief of the DOJ Bureau of Firearms, Brent E. Orick, and the California Department of Justice itself. The plaintiffs are represented in the case by attorneys George M. Lee and Douglas Applegate, as well as Raymond M. DiGuiseppe, a former California deputy attorney general and prosecutor.

“Many people, including our clients, did everything they could to comply with the law and avoid criminal liability,” commented Lee. “They used updated web browsers, hardware, different devices, and even did internet speed tests to make sure it wasn’t a problem on their end. The DOJ’s crashed system is a reflection of their cascading failures to build a system and allow people to register their guns before July 1 if that’s what they wanted to do."

The complaint says the plaintiffs “seek an un-extraordinary result, compelled by the basic tenets of due process: That they simply be allowed to register their eligible firearms and comply with the law, and that the Attorney General, the DOJ, and their officers and agents similarly comply with the law by allowing such registrations and ensuring they are properly and timely processed through a functioning online database as they have been required by statute to do.”

Under California’s voluminous gun control laws, someone merely transporting an unregistered “assault weapon” to the shooting range – even if one believes it was legal and registered under other DOJ systems, like DROS – “is guilty of a felony” and possibly subject to a prison sentence of “four, six, or eight years.” Other crimes can be added on to that, including common separate charges like possession and manufacturing.

“Attorney General Xavier Becerra seems to care about everything but the constitution, the rule of law, and law-abiding California gun owners,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “If Becerra spent as much time doing his job as he does talking about his pet crusades against the federal government, hundreds of thousands of Californians would not be in legal jeopardy right now.”

“We’re suing because California DOJ’s Firearms Application Reporting System (CFARS) broke down during the deadline week for people to register their firearms in accordance with new state laws,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “For a whole week the system was largely inaccessible, so people who wanted to comply with the law simply couldn’t and now they face becoming criminals because they couldn’t do what the law requires.”

“Predictably the state of California wants to take guns away from the law abiding. In this instance they couldn’t even build a working system to respect gun owners’ rights,” explained CGF Chairman Gene Hoffman. “We simply want to allow those who want to comply with the law to have more time with a working registration system.”

“It’s like a bad version of ‘Catch-22’,” Gottlieb observed. “The government required registration by the deadline, but the online registration failed and people couldn’t register. They’re required to obey the law, but the system broke down, making it impossible to obey the law. Now these people face the possibility of being prosecuted. We simply cannot abide that kind of incompetence.”

“Once again, the DOJ and Attorney General Becerra unlawfully and unconstitutionally moved the goal posts on peaceful, law-abiding gun owners,” observed FPF Vice President Jonathan Jensen. “Their failures should not result in people going to prison and losing their property.”

Combs noted that the case is not an endorsement of firearm registration, which carries its own risks, as many news reports have shown.

“Gun owners had a right to decide how they would approach these serious legal issues,” explained Combs. “Attorney General Becerra and his DOJ denied gun owners the opportunity to exercise their rights and make an informed choice, forcing them into the sights of fascist, hyper-aggressive special agents who kick in doors and put gun owners in jail. That’s completely unacceptable and totally deplorable.”

Californians who tried to register their firearms as “assault weapons” before July 1 but were unable to should contact the Legal Action Hotline immediately at or by telephone at 855-252-4510

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Smart Move On GOA's Part

My friend and fellow co-host of the Polite Society Podcast Rachel Malone was fired last month as Operations Manager of the Texas Republican Party. It seems a certain elected official took offense to her criticism of his 40 point "school and firearm safety" proposals especially since it contained a red-flag law proposal. As a result of Gov. Abbott's complaint as conveyed by his henchman, the Texas GOP Chairman was forced to fire Rachel.

Stupid move, Greg.

If you want to control someone it is much better to keep them under your employ. Firing them allows that person to become a free agent and return to the grass roots firearms activism for which she is known.

While I've known it since Monday, it is now public that Rachel will be the new Texas Director for Gun Owners of America. In that role, she will lobby the Texas legislature directly on gun rights. I know Rachel's ultimate goal is to bring constitutional carry to Texas.

From GOA:
Springfield, VA – Gun Owners of America (GOA) announces today the hiring of Rachel Malone as Texas Director. This signifies a new focus on GOA’s advocacy within the Texas State Legislature.

Texas is a key state for GOA’s work to advance gun freedoms. Texas is known for its rich heritage of gun owners, and it deserves strong advocacy for gun rights. Knowing this, Gun Owners of America is delighted to establish a permanent presence within Texas to preserve and defend Texans’ right to keep and bear arms.

Erich Pratt, Executive Director for Gun Owners of America, stated: “Texas is facing a battle, and GOA intends to be on the forefront. As the no-compromise gun lobby, GOA looks forward to working with grassroots activists all across Texas for victories in their state.

“I’m thrilled that Rachel Malone is serving as Texas Director for GOA. She has a strong background of fighting for firearms freedom, connecting with grassroots, and advocating within the Texas Legislature. I am confident in her ability to represent Texas gun owners in protecting the essential freedom of the right to keep and bear arms.”
 By the way, the picture above of Rachel was from the recent MAG-180 held in Wisconsin where Rachel passed everything with flying colors.

Congrats to Rachel on her new position and kudos to GOA for recognizing the gem that is Rachel in hiring her as the Texas Director.

Email Subject Line Of The Day

You have to hand it to the gun prohibitionists. Those that don't have Mike Bloomberg's money at their disposal will find any reason to ask for money. This is especially true of that cult of personality known as Giffords.

Here is the subject line of their latest email missive asking for money.

Gabby and Mark need you to rush an emergency donation to help us stop Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court. Let me explain why this request is so important.

Don't wait. Don't think about it. Send money now. Operators are standing by. A donation of only $3 will feed a starving prohibitionist for a day. Wait, I think I'm getting these pleas for donations confused a bit.

The email goes on to promise, "We are no doubt going to send a number of emails about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination." At least that is honest of  their Executive Director Peter Ambler to acknowledge that this just the first in a series of emails. Having been on their mailing list for a few years, I can assure you that each and every one of them will have some "ask" for a donation or to sign up on their mailing list.

GOA Supports Kavanaugh Nomination

This is one endorsement from a gun right group I didn't see yesterday morning. It is from Gun Owners of America. There endorsement is a bit more tempered than that of the NRA or SAF. In my opinion, it is like that of some of us in the gun rights community or that of social conservatives. We had favorites other than Kavanaugh but can live with him as he will help solidify the conservative majority on the Supreme court.

From GOA:
Erich Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America (GOA), issued the following statement on Pres. Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court:

“Gun Owners of America is optimistic that Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be a huge improvement over the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on many constitutional issues, including the Second Amendment.

“Initial reports suggest that Judge Kavanaugh deeply respects the Second Amendment, even though he was not the strongest of the finalists.

“Nevertheless, Judge Kavanaugh filed a pro-gun dissent in Heller II, arguing that Washington, DC’s ban on semi-automatic firearms was arbitrary and unlawful.

“In fact, his dissent was so well argued that GOA’s subsequent legal briefs have repeatedly held up his dissent as the model to follow.

“In another case, Kavanaugh correctly interpreted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to find that a defendant could not be sentenced to 30 years in prison for use of a fully-automatic firearm if he was unaware that the gun fired automatically.

“Kavanaugh also supported the prevailing opinion in the Citizens United case, which affirmed GOA’s voice in the political arena.

“GOA hopes that the Senate will confirm Kavanaugh — and that the Supreme Court will take up more Second Amendment cases, thus repealing the onerous and unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms that exist throughout the country.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Wow! DOJ Settles With Cody Wilson And Defense Distributed

Less than 24 hours after President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice comes to an agreement with the Second Amendment Foundation regarding their lawsuit on behalf of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. I know I say that actions have consequences but this one is a "Wow!"

From Josh Blackman's blog with some more details:
BELLEVUE, WA – The Department of Justice and Second Amendment Foundation have reached a settlement in SAF’s lawsuit on behalf of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed over free speech issues related to 3-D files and other information that may be used to manufacture lawful firearms.

SAF and Defense Distributed had filed suit against the State Department under the Obama administration, challenging a May 2013 attempt to control public speech as an export under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a Cold War-era law intended to control exports of military articles.

Under terms of the settlement, the government has agreed to waive its prior restraint against the plaintiffs, allowing them to freely publish the 3-D files and other information at issue. The government has also agreed to pay a significant portion of the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees, and to return $10,000 in State Department registration dues paid by Defense Distributed as a result of the prior restraint.

Significantly, the government expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber – including modern semi-auto sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms – are not inherently military.

“Not only is this a First Amendment victory for free speech, it also is a devastating blow to the gun prohibition lobby,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “For years, anti-gunners have contended that modern semi-automatic sport-utility rifles are so-called ‘weapons of war,’ and with this settlement, the government has acknowledged they are nothing of the sort.

“Under this settlement,” he continued, “the government will draft and pursue regulatory amendments that eliminate ITAR control over the technical information at the center of this case. They will transfer export jurisdiction to the Commerce Department, which does not impose prior restraint on public speech. That will allow Defense Distributed and SAF to publish information about 3-D technology.”
Blackman's blog has all the major pleadings in this case. SAF and Wilson had submitted a petition for a writ of certiorari to the US Supreme Court after losing in the 5th Circuit. This writ had not been denied as it was still in the pleading and reply process. Cert was denied in January 2018.

This is a win for free speech, a win for gun rights, a loss for prior restraint, and a giant FU to the State of California and their paranoia over "ghost guns".

WIRED Magazine goes into great detail about what Cody has been up to the last few years, the why of Defense Distributed, the gnashing of teeth by the antis, and the blurred line between the First and Second Amendment.

And Now The Reactions From The Prohibitionists, Part 3

Let it not be said that the cult of personality known as Giffords would be left out of making their opposition to Judge Brett Kavanugh known. While I may have serious doubts that Ms. Giffords actually wrote her piece in opposition, it does go out over her name.

From Giffords and Giffords Law Center:
July 9, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, released the following statements after the announcement of President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court following the retiring of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Former Representative Gabrielle Giffords:

“In nominating Judge Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice, the Trump Administration is once again showing brazen disregard for the people it claims to protect. Judge Kavanaugh’s dangerous views on the Second Amendment are far outside the mainstream of even conservative thought and stand in direct opposition to the values and priorities of the vast majority of Americans. America needs a Supreme Court justice who respects the Second Amendment but who also realizes reasonable regulations that reduce gun violence do not infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights. But that’s not the kind of justice President Trump nominated today.

“America’s gun violence epidemic weighs daily on the minds of so many families in our country. Parents live in fear of hearing their children describe to them what it’s like to go through an active shooter drill. Too many people in communities across the country live in fear of being shot in their neighborhoods. In states across the country, students and voters have been speaking up, taking to statehouses, and demanding that lawmakers pass effective gun safety legislation. Their advocacy is delivering results: just since the massacre in Parkland, more than 50 gun safety bills have passed in 26 states. Should the Senate confirm the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, we have every indication to believe that he will prioritize an agenda backed by the gun lobby, putting corporate interests before public safety. Make no mistake, the progress we’ve achieved passing firearm laws that save lives every day will be in serious danger.”

Hannah Shearer, Staff Attorney and Second Amendment Litigation Director at Giffords Law Center

“Judge Kavanaugh has expressed a dangerous hostility toward reasonable gun regulations and made clear he believes the government’s power to address gun violence is extremely limited. Judge Kavanaugh rejects the idea that courts should consider public safety when judging gun cases and would strike down bedrock gun laws like those that restrict civilian use of the dangerous, military-style weapons regularly used in mass shootings.

“Even Justice Scalia, one of the most conservative Supreme Court justices in modern history, endorsed reasonable firearm regulations like the ones Judge Kavanaugh would strike down. Judge Kavanaugh’s positions on the Second Amendment are outliers far outside the mainstream, and confirming him to the Supreme Court could negatively impact efforts to fight gun violence for many years to come. The notion of Judge Kavanaugh serving on our nation’s highest judicial bench should worry Americans who care about the safety of their families and communities. Now is the time for them to speak up and demand a nominee who will respect centuries of American legal tradition, recognize that gun rights have always gone hand-in-hand with responsible regulations, and put the life and liberty of all Americans ahead of the interests of the gun lobby.”

Since District of Columbia v. Heller was decided by the Supreme Court ten years ago, the lower courts have overwhelmingly upheld reasonable gun safety laws more moderate than the handgun ban Heller invalidated. The United States Supreme Court has not granted review in a significant Second Amendment case since Heller and its companion case, McDonald, and they have denied review in more than 80 cases. The confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh could mean that the Supreme Court intervenes more in these lower-court cases and overturns decisions that have consistently protected public safety.

In the near future, the Supreme Court may have the opportunity to rule on a variety of Second Amendment issues that are pending in the lower courts. For example, a series of NRA-backed lawsuits were filed this spring to challenge strong concealed carry permitting laws in New Jersey, Maryland, and New York. The NRA has also filed or supported a number of suits challenging critical gun safety measures adopted after the Parkland massacre, including laws that restrict access to the large capacity magazines used in Parkland and other mass shootings. Any one of these cases could be the next major Second Amendment case to reach the Supreme Court, with critical implications for public safety.

Frankly, I do hope Hannah Shearer is correct in her assumption that the Supreme Court might finally start hearing Second Amendment cases. Their failure to do so merely has encouraged judges in lower courts who disagreed with Heller to ignore that opinion and to use the Supreme Court as a doormat.

And Now The Reactions From The Prohibitionists, Part 2

The Brady Campaign wasted no time in signalling their opposition to Judge Kavanaugh. I'm sure like the opponents marching on the steps of the Supreme Court last night, they had pre-printed press releases with the names Hardiman, Kethledge, and Barrett inserted in them.

From the Brady Campaign:
Washington, D.C., July 9, 2018 - This evening, President Trump announced his nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, replacing retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. The Brady Campaign and Center to Prevent Gun Violence expressed serious apprehension over the nomination, citing Judge Kavanaugh’s previous hostility to common-sense gun safety laws.

Brady Campaign co-president Avery Gardiner:

“We don’t have to guess when it comes to Judge Kavanaugh’s track record on gun laws - he’s made it quite clear where he stands. And for a president who took more than $30 million from the NRA, Judge Kavanaugh is a perfect fit. This is a judge who sees no difference between assault weapons and handguns, and who has stated that there is no judicial role when it comes to regulating gun ownership. We call on Judge Kavanaugh to tell the American people clearly and plainly how he interprets the Second Amendment. If he is as hostile to gun laws as he appears to be, then we will fight this nomination tooth and nail.”

Brady Campaign co-president Kris Brown:

“The NRA paid good money to get this nomination, and make no mistake - they’re popping champagne as we speak. Wayne LaPierre called this no less than the ‘ultimate prize,’ and we can all expect the gun lobby to outspend the million dollars they spent during the last Supreme Court nomination to push for Judge Kavanaugh. We at Brady are not going to let that happen without a fight, and without demanding a rigorous and exacting standard of questioning for Judge Kavanaugh about his judicial record. Brady has been at the frontlines of the legal battles for gun safety for nearly three decades, and we will press forward with this important fight in the weeks, months, and years to come.”

Brady VP of Litigation Jonathan Lowy:

“Judge Kavanaugh must tell the American public whether he will protect their most important right — the right to be safe from gun violence — or whether he will cater to the gun lobby’s agenda to let virtually anyone carry any gun, any time, anywhere. At the end of the day, it’s a simple question. Do you believe that the right to guns overrides the right to be safe from being shot? If the answer is yes, you simply aren’t fit for a lifetime appointment to America’s highest court.”


Judge Brett Kavanaugh has a history of opposition to common-sense measures to promote gun safety.

  • In Heller v. District of Columbia (note: this is a different case than the landmark Supreme Court decision in 2008), Judge Kavanaugh dissented from the panel opinion that upheld a city law banning possession of semi-automatic rifles and requiring registration of all guns. In his dissent, Kavanaugh wrote that “there is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles.” Kavanaugh further wrote that “semi-automatic rifles have traditionally not been banned and are in common use today, and are thus protected” by the Second Amendment. This would run counter to what numerous federal courts have ruled, placing the viewpoint far outside the mainstream legal opinion.
  • The dissent also read that there is an “absence of a role for judicial interest balancing or assessment of costs and benefits of gun regulation,” indicating that Kavanaugh would potentially rule against any sort of common sense gun safety laws.
  • Of the panel of three Republican-appointed judges, Kavanaugh was the only one to dissent and argue that the assault weapon ban is unconstitutional. The Brady Center also recently published a report on the 10-year anniversary of the landmark D.C. v. Heller Supreme Court case. 

The report:

  • Discusses the reality of what Heller does and does not allow, including that there are clear and valid reasons for certain firearms, such as assault weapons, to be banned from personal use and possession;
  • Explores the ongoing position, held by Brady and which numerous courts have agreed with, that the Heller decision can coexist with reasonable gun measures and laws; and
  • Examines key developments over the past ten years, over which approximately 1,200 Second Amendment challenges have been considered by state and federal courts. Many of the disputes have focused on common-sense gun laws regarding public carry, assault weapons and large capacity magazine bans, prohibited purchasers and background checks, and gun safety regulations. In over 90% of these cases, the courts have sided with Brady’s interpretation of Heller. Notably, the Supreme Court has only agreed to hear one major Second Amendment case in the decade since Heller; a Court featuring Kavanaugh could choose to hear many more cases in the near future.
Jonathan Lowy knows that the US Constitution does not include a "right to be safe from gun violence (sic)" nor does it explicitly include a right to privacy. It does, however, have the enumerated individual right to keep and bear arms. Hmm.

They are correct that the Supreme Court might finally agree to hear cases in the future involving the Second Amendment. Since McDonald, with the exception of Caetano v. Massachusetts, the Supreme Court has not heard a Second Amendment challenge and Caetano didn't involve firearms but rather stun guns.

Just because courts have misconstrued and ignored Heller and McDonald doesn't mean they are right. That is akin to saying in 1910, 90% of white southerners thought segregation was correct. It wasn't.

Finally, and I find this amusing, in the clearest indication that the Brady Campaign is not sharing in the largesse of Michael Bloomberg, they have resorted to promoting high priced lipstick as a means of fund raising.

And Now The Reactions From The Prohibitionists, Part 1

Just as sure as the sun comes up in the East, so too is the opposition by the gun prohibitionists to anyone that President Trump might have picked to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. It wouldn't have mattered if it was a DC insider like Kavanaugh or an outsider like Hardiman or Kethledge. If they ever said or wrote anything that was pro-gun rights, then they were anathema.

From Michael Bloomberg's wholly owned Everytown Moms for Illegal Mayors:
“President Trump vowed he’d never let the NRA down, and with the Kavanaugh pick, he chose someone whose judicial record demonstrates a dangerous view of the Second Amendment that elevates gun rights above public safety. We oppose this nomination and urge the Senate to vote it down.”

The Supreme Court made clear in its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, that “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” The Court also confirmed “that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Judges appointed by both Republicans and Democrats since then have repeatedly upheld reasonable gun laws as consistent with the Second Amendment.


  • Judge Kavanaugh has applied an extreme and dangerous interpretation of the Second Amendment when determining whether a law is constitutional, one that does not take into account a law’s impact on public safety.
  • Judge Kavanaugh has made clear he would strike down prohibitions on the AR-15 and other assault-style weapons. In 2011, he dissented from a decision upholding Washington, D.C.’s prohibition on assault-style weapons and its requirement to register handguns. The dissent put Judge Kavanaugh at odds not only with the two other Republican-appointed judges on the court hearing the case, but also every other federal and state appeals court to address the issue.
That last line says more about how judges have ignored and perverted the Supreme Court's rulings in Heller and McDonald than it does about Judge Kavanaugh.

NSSF "Backs President's Selection" Of Kavanaugh

The National Shooting Sports Foundation weighed in on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. They approve.

From NSSF:
The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®), the trade association for the firearms, ammunition and related industries, tonight expressed its strong support for President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“We are pleased to lend our support to President Trump’s nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to approve his nomination before the next term begins on the first Monday in October,” said Lawrence Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “We are confident that Judge Kavanaugh will serve our nation with distinction as an Associate Justice of our nation’s highest court and that he will make decisions that will serve to protect the Second Amendment and other Constitutionally guaranteed rights of law-abiding Americans.”

NRA-ILA "Applauds" The Kavanaugh Pick

Continuing on with the across the board approval of the Kavanaugh pick by gun rights groups is the response of the NRA through its NRA-ILA arm.

Fairfax, Va. -The National Rifle Association (NRA) applauds the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the United States Supreme Court.

“President Trump has made another outstanding choice in nominating Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court. He has an impressive record that demonstrates his strong support for the Second Amendment,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director, NRA-ILA. “We urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, just as it confirmed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.”

During his tenure on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Kavanaugh wrote a strong dissenting opinion in opposition to Washington, D.C.’s ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and registration requirement by applying an historical test consistent with Justice Scalia’s opinion in Heller.

“Judge Kavanaugh has demonstrated his clear belief that the Constitution should be applied as the Framers intended. To that end, he has supported the fundamental, individual right to self-defense embraced by Justice Scalia in the historic Heller decision. ”

“On behalf of our six million members, the NRA strongly supports Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. We will be activating our members and tens of millions of supporters throughout the country in support of Judge Kavanaugh. He will protect our right to keep and bear arms and is an outstanding choice to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat,” concluded Cox.

SAF On Kavanaugh Pick

There seems to be genuine across the board approval of the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy by pro-gun rights organizations.

From SAF:
BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation this evening applauded president Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court created by the looming retirement of Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“We’re encouraged by this nomination,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “because by adding Judge Kavanaugh, we might see the high court become more willing to accept and rule on important Second Amendment issues, such as right-to-carry.

“While the Supreme Court has twice affirmed in the last ten years that the Second Amendment protects a fundamental, individual right to keep a firearm for home defense,” he continued, “but the court has yet to even begin defining the right to bear arms outside of the home or business, in public.

“We know that the Court will face enormous challenges on other rights issues,” Gottlieb observed, “but the right to keep and bear arms is a cornerstone of the Bill of Rights that has set this nation apart as a beacon of freedom and liberty. It is time for the court to examine the constitutionality of various state laws that restrict the right to carry, for example, and make arbitrary decisions about who can exercise that right.

“Our courts should be the place that we can trust to safeguard our rights and promote freedom,” he added.

“We’re hoping that the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the court will be quickly affirmed by the Senate,” Gottlieb concluded.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Trump Played It Safe With Kavanaugh

As you may have heard a few minutes ago, President Trump will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. Frankly, I'm a bit disappointed. I think Trump played it safe by going with the insider.

If you read my mini-bio on Kavanaugh, you know he is a Yale and Yale Law graduate who clerked for Justice Kennedy. He worked in both the Solicitor General's Office and the White House under President George W. Bush. The only really controversial thing about Kavanaugh is that he is considered to be the principal author of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's report on President Clinton that led to his impeachment.

Kavanaugh, a Catholic, grew up in the DC area and attended Georgetown Prep before going to Yale. As a Catholic myself, I think for the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, we need to look to someone other than Catholics or Jews to sit on the Supreme Court. While Catholicism is the largest individual religious denomination, Protestants do make the majority of the Christians in the US.

Kavanaugh does have an OK record on reining in the administrative state as you might expect for a judge on the DC Circuit. While he dissented on Heller II which was good, I'm afraid as Professor Nelson Lund has pointed out, he doesn't quite get Heller and McDonald.

I thought Judge Amy Coney Barrett would have been the more controversial choice and that Judges Hardiman and Kethledge were much better on the Second Amendment. Moreover, none of those three attended Harvard or Yale schools of law which I saw as a big plus.

I read somewhere today that Trump thought Kethledge was "low energy" which might be how an extrovert tends to think of an introvert. As an introvert myself, I consider this bullshit and that Trump was grossly mistaken.

It is not that Kavanaugh is a bad choice but as a Second Amendment supporter above all else I just want to say, "Meh".  Another freaking Ivy League law school grad insider just doesn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Susan, About That Precedent Thing

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), the dowager senator* from Maine, has said that she won't support a Supreme Court nominee who might overturn Roe v. Wade.

From her interview a week ago on ABC's This Week:
“It has been established as a constitutional right for 46 years — 45 years, and was reaffirmed 26 years ago,” Collins said. “So a nominee position, whether or not they respect precedent, will tell me a lot about whether or not they would overturn Roe v. Wade. A candidate of this import position who would overturn Roe v. Wade would not be acceptable to me, because that would indicate an activist agenda that I don’t want to see a judge have. And that would indicate to me a failure to respect precedent of fundamental tenet of our judicial system.”
This leads me to wonder whether Collins would have supported a nominee of a President Hillary Clinton who supported abortion but was committed to overturning both Heller and McDonald. I would be hard pressed to argue that she would not have.

My point in not to argue one way or another on abortion but I have watched numerous judges at both the District Court and Court of Appeals level who have thumbed their nose at Heller and McDonald in the ten and eight years respectively since they've been decided. You could put most judges in the 4th and 9th Circuits on that list. Moreover, the right to privacy was a right that was created out of whole cloth unlike the right to keep and bear arms which is an enumerated right found in the Bill of Rights.

Whomever President Trump announces as his nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy will presumably respect precedent. I just hope that her or she will have the gumption to say no to the lower courts who have ignored the precedent supposedly established in Heller and McDonald.

* I call Collins the dowager senator because she essentially inherited the position from former Sen. William Cohen whom she had served as a staffer early in her career.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

President Trump's SCOTUS List, Part 5

These are the final five potential nominees for the Supreme Court to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Of the five, Thapar seems to be the one who may or may not be on the finalist short list. He has been interviewed in the last week or so by President Trump and is reported to be a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Amul  R. Thapar

49 y.o, married to Kim Schulte Thapar, and has three children. Raised culturally Hindu but converted to Catholicism as an adult.

Current Position:

Judge, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate on May 25, 2017.


Boston College, B.S., 1991
University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, J.D., 1994


Judge S. Arthur Spiegel, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, 1994-1996
Judge Nathaniel R. Jones, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1996-1997

Previous Positions:

Adjunct professor, University of Cincinnati College of Law, 1995-1997, 2002-2006
Private practice, Washington, D.C., 1997-1999
Trial advocacy instructor, Georgetown University Law Center, 1999-2000
Assistant U.S. attorney, District of Columbia, 1999-2000
General counsel,, 2000-2001
Private practice, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2001-2002
Assistant U.S. attorney, Southern District of Ohio, 2002-2006
U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, 2006-2007
Judge, US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, 2007-2017


(With Benjamin Beaton) The Pragmatism of Interpretation: A Review of Richard A. Poser, the Federal Judiciary, 116 Mich. L. Rev. 819 (2017-2018)

Judicial Opinions:

Thapar's questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee lists 10 of his most important cases in his opinion. A number involved drug trafficking of opiates. The one that got the most attention in the media, US v. Walli, had the jury convicting pacifists including a Catholic nun on charges of destruction of government property and harming the national defense. The nun wanted to get life in prison but Thapar sentenced her to 35 months. The 6th Circuit threw out the convictions on harming the national defense but affirmed the destruction of government property convictions.


The Alliance for Justice accused Thapar of being "a narrow-minded elitist who would protect corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful over all Americans." I presume this is because some of his cases involved coal companies as would be expected in eastern Kentucky. There were critical of him in one of his more notable cases, US v. Walli, where antiwar pacifists broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN and threw blood on enriched uranium. His decision was reversed in part and affirmed in part by the 6th Circuit.

Timothy M. Tymkovich


61 y.o., married to Western novelist Suzanne Lyon, and has two sons, Michael and Jay. Tymkovich is a third generation Coloradan.

Current Position:

Chief Judge, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate on April 1, 2003. Chief Judge since 2015.


Colorado College, B.A., 1979
University of Colorado Law School, J.D., 1982


Justice William H. Erickson, Colorado Supreme Court, 1982-1983

Previous Positions:

Private practice, Colorado, 1983-1991
Solicitor general, State of Colorado, 1991-1996
Private practice, Denver, Colorado, 1996-2003


Colorado Survey: Recent Legislation and Colorado Supreme Court Decisions Referendum and Rezoning, 53 U. Colo. L. Rev. 745, (1982)
William H. Erickson, 63 Denv. U. L. Rev. 11 (1985-1986)
(With John Dailey and Paul Farley) A Tale of Three Theories: Reason and Prejudice in the Battle over Amendment 2, 68 U. Colo. L. Rev. 287 (1997)
The Law Review and the Judiciary, 75 U. Colo. L. Rev. [i] (2004)
The Problem with Pretext, 85 Denv. U. L. Rev. 503 (2007-2008)
Are State Constitutions Constitutional, 97 Minn. L. Rev. 1804 (2012-2013)
William H. Erickson (1924-2010), 47 Colo. Law. 72 (2018)

Judicial Opinions:

Tymkovich wrote a dissenting opinion in Bonidy v. USPS in which he argued that post office parking lots were not sensitive places and that the Second Amendment applies outside the home. Tymkovich also wrote the 10th Circuit's opinion in the Hobby Lobby case in finding that they were not obligated to provide certain forms of birth control due to their religious objections under ObamaCare.


The Alliance for Justice accuses Tymkovich of being hostile to LGBTQ rights and women's reproductive rights. They also said he opposed Denver's efforts to ban "assault weapons" which is OK in my book.

Don R. Willett

51 y.o., married to Tiffany Willett (also an attorney), and has three children. Willett is the first in his family to attend, much less graduate, college. Adopted father died when Willett was 6 and his mother had to become a truck stop waitress to support the family. Death of his father without a will is what planted the seed in his mind to become a lawyer. Was named Texas Twitter Laureate by Texas House of Representatives.

Current Position:

Judge, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. Donald Trump. Confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 13, 2017.


Baylor University, B.B.A., 1988
Duke University School of Law, J.D., 1992
Duke University, M.A., Political Science, 1992
Duke University School of Law, LL.M., 2016


Judge Jerre S. Williams, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1992-1993

Previous Positions:

Associate, Haynes & Boone, Austin, Texas, 1993-1996
Director of research and special projects, Office of Gov. George W. Bush, Texas, 1996-2000
Domestic policy and special projects advisor, George W. Bush presidential campaign and transition team, 2000-2001
Special assistant to President George W. Bush, White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, 2001-2002
Deputy assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Policy, U.S. Department of Justice, 2002-2003
Deputy attorney general for legal counsel, State of Texas, 2003-2005
Justice, Supreme Court of Texas, 2005-2017. Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.


(With T. Vance McMahan) Hope from Hopwood: Charting a Positive Civil Rights Course for Texas and the Nation, 10 Stan. L. & Pol'y Rev. 163 (1998-1999)
Book Reviews – An Inconvenient Truth: Conservatives Acting Charitably, 12 Tex. Rev. L. & Pol. 181 (2007-2008)
Foreward, 64 S.M.U. L. Rev. 1 (2011)
Pre-“Originalism”, 36 Harv. J. L.& Public Pol’y 277 (2013)
Don’t Stop the Presses: Texas High Court Justices Help Revitalize a Revered Judicial Journal, 78 Tex. B. J. 628 (2016)
(With John Browning) Rules of Engagement: Exploring Judicial Use of Social Media, 79 Tex. B. J. 100 (2016)
As A Texas Justice, I Know Antonin Scalia Was A Giatn in American Law and Culture, Indep. J. Rev., (Apr 2016)

Judicial Opinions:

Willett served as an Associate Justice on the Texas Supreme Court for over 12 years. In that time he has authored hundreds of opinions. Google Scholar has a list of them here. Interestingly, the first one I read, Tanner v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Ins. Co, found for the injured and against the insurance company. Imagine that. Willett's first opinion on the 5th Circuit included his usual brand of humor including the conclusion that, "Maturino’s plan for live grenades fell short, but close counts in horseshoes and hand-grenade cases." How can you not love that?


Let's face it and conclude that Don Willett's up from the poor by his own bootstraps background must stick in the craw of his opponents. That plus his sense of humor seems to be off-putting to his opponents on the left. As such, the Alliance for Justice is throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at him. Anti-women's rights. Check. Anti-gay. Check. Anti-worker. Check. Anti-square cornbread. Check. Oh wait, that last one wasn't on their list but I'd be surprised if it wasn't.
Patrick R. Wyrick


37 y.o., married to Jamie Talbert Wyrick, and has twin sons and a daughter. Played baseball for the University of Oklahoma. Drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1999. Wife Jamie is a physical therapist who played basketball for OU, is a physical therapist, and is an ovarian cancer survivor.

Current Position:

Associate Justice, District 2, Oklahoma Supreme Court. Nominated by Pres. Donald Trump to be US District Court Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma in April 2018. Passed out of Judiciary Committee and waiting for Senate confirmation.


University of Oklahoma, BA, 2004
University of Oklahoma School of Law, JD, 2007


Judge James H. Payne, US District Court for Districts of Eastern, Northern, and Western Oklahoma, 2007-2008

Previous Positions:

RH Relief Pitcher, GCL Marlins and Jamestown Jammers, Minor League Baseball, 2002
Associate, Gable Gotwals, Oklahoma City, OK, 2008-2011
Solicitor General, Oklahoma Attorney General's office, 2011-2017


(With Dale Cottingham) "Schedules of Use" for Appropriated Streamwater - What Every Municipality Should Know, 81 Okla. Bar J. 1867 (2010)

Judicial Opinions:

Wyrick has only served on the Oklahoma Supreme Court for about a year and a half. Thus, he has had limited opportunity to establish a long record of judicial opinions. However, as his Senate Judiciary Committee questionnaire makes clear, he has authored both majority opinions and dissenting opinions. He has found in favor of both insurance companies as well as the injured. Wyrick did dissent in a case involving a claim of permanent disability where the person had never had an actual adjudication of his disability and thus wasn't entitled to payments from a special fund. He also authored an opinion regarding the constitutionality of an OK law that levied "smoking cessation fees" on cigarettes. He found that it was a revenue bill and its method of passage without a super-majority violated the state constitution.


The Alliance for Justice is strongly opposing Wyrick for both the SCOTUS and to be a US District Court judge. They accuse him of being too close to former Oklahoma AG (and former EPA Administrator) Scott Pruitt among other things. On gun rights Wyrick signed an OK AG Opinion saying that Oklahomans can carry concealed or openly if they have a permit from another state. That is anathema to the AFJ. The bulk of their criticism of Wyrick comes from his tenure as Solicitor General and not on his work on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Robert P. Young Jr.


67 y.o., married to Dr. Linda Hotchkiss, a psychiatrist, and has two grown children.

Current Position:

Partner, Dickinson Wright, Lansing, MI
Adjunct Professor, Michigan State University School of Law


Harvard University, AB, 1974
Harvard University Law School, JD, 1977

Previous Positions:

Associate and Partner, Dickinson Wright, Detroit, MI, 1978-1992
General Counsel, AAA of Michigan, 1992-1995
Judge, Michigan Court of Appeals, 1995-1999
Associate Justice, Michigan Supreme Court, 1999-2011
Chief Justice, Michigan Supreme Court, 2011-2017


Co-Editor, Michigan Civil Procedure During Trial, 2d Ed. (1989)
Co-Editor, Michigan Civil Procedure (1999)
State Jurisprudence, the Role of the Courts and the Rule of Law. 8 TEX. REV. LAW & POL. 299 (2004)
A Judicial Traditionalist Confronts Justice Brennan's School of Judicial Philosophy, 33 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 263 (2008)
"Active Liberty and the Problem of Judicial Oligarchy," in The Supreme Court and the Idea of the Constitutionalism (2009) Co-Editor, Michigan Civil Procedure, 2d Ed. (2012)

Judicial Opinions:

A year before the US Supreme Court decided the Kelo case, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in an opinion authored by Justice Young that the Michigan constitution placed strong restrictions on the use of eminent domain for private purposes and the cases in questions did not meet those restrictions. In another case, he authored an advisory ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court saying that requiring voter identification was a "reasonable, nondiscriminatory" requirement to ensure fair elections. He concluded that the right to vote also include the assurance that one's vote will not be cancelled out by fraudulent votes. Young angered environmentalists when he wrote that in clean water cases under the Michigan Environmental Protection Act plaintiffs must suffer a concrete injury that is actual or imminent in order to have standing and not some hypothetical injury.


The Alliance for Justice mentions both the voter ID and the clean water cases in their muted opposition to Young. I presume it is muted because he is 67 years old and out of the expected age range for Kennedy's replacement. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

President Trump's SCOTUS List, Part 4

This group of judges includes the only Article I judge, Judge Margaret Ryan of the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, who unlike the others does not serve a life term of office. The other judges on this list - Newsom, Pryor, Stras, and Sykes - are Article III Court of Appeals judges with a liftetime appointment.

Kevin C. Newsom


46 y.o., married to Deborah Wilgus Newsom, and has two sons. Raised by a single mother as his alcoholic father was mostly absent. Sister has a rare genetic disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome which left her physically and mentally disabled.

Current Position:

Judge, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Appointed by President Trump in 2017 and confirmed on August 1, 2017


Samford University, B.A. summa cum laude, 1994
Harvard Law School, J.D. magna cum laude, 1997


Judge Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1997-1998
Justice David H. Souter, Supreme Court of the United States, 2000-2001

Previous Positions:

Associate, Covington & Burling LLP, Washington, D.C., 1998-2000, 2001-2003
Adjunct professor of law, Georgetown University Law Center, 2002
Solicitor general, State of Alabama, 2003-2007
Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP, Birmingham, Alabama, 2007-2017
Adjunct professor, Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, 2009-2011
Adjunct professor, Vanderbilt University Law School, 2011


Suspicionless drug testing and the Fourth Amendment: Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 115 S. Ct. 2386, 19 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 209 (1995)
Constitutional Law. Establishment Clause. Seventh Circuit Invalidates Illinois Law Mandating Good Friday School Closure. Metzl v. Leininger, 57 F.3d 618 (7th Cir. 1995), 109 Harv. L. Rev. 693 (1996)
The Supreme Court, 1995 Term - Leading Cases, 110 Harv. L. Rev. 277 (1996) Setting Incorporationism Straight: A Reinterpretation of the Slaughter-House Cases, 109 Yale L.J. 643 (2000)
Discrimination, Retaliation, and Implied Private Rights of Action, 6 Engage: J. Federalist Soc'y Prac. Groups 50 (2005)
(With MJ Ayers) A Brave New World of Judicial Recusal? - The United States Supreme Court Enters the Fray, 70 Ala. Law. 369 (2009)
(With Anna Manasco Dionne) Commentary: Practice trumps theory in McDonald v. City of Chicago, Nat'l Law J. July 21, 2010
(With Jack Wilson) Commentary: The Court on class arbitration, Nat'l Law J. Oct. 18, 2010
The State Solicitor General Boom, 32 App. Prac. 6 (2013)
(With Anna Manasco) On the Merits: Brown v. Electrolux Home Products, Inc., Wash Legal Found., Wash. D.C., Sept 11, 2015

Judicial Opinions:

Newsom's first opinion after joining the 11th Circuit involved a tax case dealing with the deductibility of expenses for in vitro fertilization by a gay man. The unanimous court panel said no and also it didn't deny him due process because hetrosexual couples using IVF weren't allowed the deduction either. He opened his opinion stating, "This is a tax case. Fear not, keep reading." In another case, Newsom joined the majority for a 2-1 decision against a prisoner in Brevard County, FL who claimed inhumane and unconstitutional conditions. The People for the American Way (sic) highlighted this per curium decision in their blog (and it should be noted they opposed his confirmation from the get-go). In another case, Newsom joined in the unanimous decision in favor of a female LEO who was demoted by an Alabama police department for seeking to breastfeed her child.


To say that the Alliance for Justice doesn't like Newsom is an understatement. They accuse him of being anti-civil rights because he has criticized substantive due process which they claim would be bad for women's and LGBTQ rights and Title IX cases. They also castigate him for his defense of Alabama death penalty cases while serving as Solicitor General of Alabama which was, you know, kinda his job. What they and the People for the American Way are really mad about is that Alabama's then senators refused to sign a blue slip for Judge Abdul Kallon, an African-American, to be on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and Newsom got the job instead.

William H. Pryor, Jr.


56 y.o., married to Kristan Wilson Pryor, and has two daughters. Catholic.

Current Position:

Judge, 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Recess appointment on Feb. 20, 2004. Appointed by Pres. George W. Bush and confirmed on June 9, 2005.


Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana at Monroe), B.A., 1984
Tulane University Law School, J.D.  Magna Cum Laude, 1987


Judge John Minor Wisdom, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 1987-1988

Previous Positions:

Associate, Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas & O’Neal, Birmingham, AL, 1988-1991
Partner, Walston, Stabler, Wells, Anderson & Bains, Birmingham, AL, 1991-1995 Adjunct professor, Samford University, Cumberland School of Law, 1989-1995
Deputy attorney general, State of Alabama, 1995-1997
Attorney general, State of Alabama, 1997-2004
Visiting Prof., University of Alabama Law School, 2006-Present


Note, The Single Incident Inference of Municipal Liability Under Section 1893: City of Oklahoma City v. Tuttle, 60 Tul. L. Rev. 874 (1986)
(With Benjamin Rowe) A Survey of Alabama Law Pertaining to Improper Closing Arguments, 50 Ala. Law. 9 (1989)
Applying Batson in Civil Trials: The Greatest Sideshow on Earth, 22 Cumb. L. Rev. 49 (1991-1992)
A Comparison of Abuses and Reforms of Class Actions and Multigovernment Lawsuits, 74 Tul. L. Rev. 1885 (1999-2000)
"Comment," 31 Seton Hall L. Rev: 604 (2001)
(With Francis McGovern & Ronald Rychlak) Regulation through Litigation – Panel, 71 Miss. L.J. 613 (2001-2002)
Madison's Double Security: In Defense of Federalism, the Separation of Powers, and the Rehnquist Court, 53 Ala. L. Rev. 1167 (2001-2002)
The Demand for Clarity; Federalism, Statutory Construction, and the 2000 Term, 32 Cumb. L. Rev. 361 (2001-2002)
Christian Duty and the Rule of Law, 34 Cumb. L. Rev. 1 (2003)
Lessons of a Sentencing Reformer from the Deep South, 105 Colum. L. Rev. 943 (2005)
The Murder of Father James Coyle, The Prosecution of Edwin Stephenson, and the True Calling of Lawyers, 20 Notre Dame J. L. Ethics & Pub. Pol’y 401 (2006) The Religious Faith and Judicial Duty of an American Catholic Judge, 24 Yale L. & Pol'y Rev. 347 (2006)
Foreign and International Law Sources in Domestic Constitutional Interpretation, 30 Harv. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 173 (2006-2007)
Judicial Independence and the Lesson of History, 68 Ala. Law. 389 (2007)
Not-So-Serious Threats to Judicial Independence, 93 Va. L. Rev. 1759 (2007)
The Perspective of a Junior Circuit Judge on Judicial Modesty, 60 Fla. L. Rev. 1007 (2008)
Moral Duty and the Rule of Law, 31 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol'y 153 (2008)
Federalism and Sentencing Reform in the Post-Blakely/Booker Era, 8 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 515 (2010-2011)

Judicial Opinions:

Given that Pryor has served on the 11th Circuit for over 14 years, he has served on a lot of cases and rendered a number of opinions. Here is a list of his notable decisions. None of these seem to implicate the Second Amendment. With regard to the Second Amendment, Pryor has always indicated his strong support for an individual right to keep and bear arms and was very critical of the Clinton Administration's attempts at lawfare against the firearms industry.


Angered some social conservatives because while serving as Alabama's Attorney General he removed Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for violating a Federal court order. As might be expected, he is hated by the left because he characterized both Miranda and Roe "as the worst cases of judicial activism". He also ruled in a 2009 case that requiring a voter ID as in Georgia placed an "insignificant burden" on voters.

Margaret A. "Meg" Ryan


54 y.o., married to Michael Collins. No children. Attended law school under the Marine Corps Legal Education Program. Deployed with II & III MEF to Philippines and Saudi Arabia (Desert Storm)

Current Position:

Judge, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Nominated in 2006 by Pres. George W. Bush for a term of 15 years. Confirmed by a Senate voice vote on Dec. 9, 2006.


Knox College, BA Cum Laude, 1985
University of Chicago, 1985-1986, no degree
USMC Communications Electronics Officers School, Honor Graduate, 1988
University of Notre Dame Law School, JD, Summa Cum Laude, 1995
Naval Justice School, Graduated with honors, 1995


Judge J. Michael Luttig, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2000-2001
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States, 2001-2002

Previous Positions:

Enlisted, US Marine Corps Reserve, 1986-1987
Major (final rank), platoon/company commander, staff officer, operations officer, and Judge Advocate, US Marine Corps, 1987-1999
Aide de Camp, Commandant of the Marine Corps Charles Krulak, 1997-1999
Associate, Cooper Carvin & Rosenthal, Washington, DC, 1999-2000
Partner, Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP, Denver, CO, 2002-2004
Partner, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, Washington, DC, 2004-2006

Judicial Opinions:

In US v. Wilcox, she found that for a service member to be charged under Article 134, UCMJ, for speech discrediting the military, that the speech must be shown to have a clear and palpable connection to the military mission or environment. In US v. Elespuru, she found that the lower court's conviction on multiple charges brought due to the "exigencies of proof" constituted double jeopardy. More of her decisions can be found here.


There seems to be no opposition to Judge Ryan which may indicate that while she is on Trump's SCOTUS list she isn't considered likely to get the nod.

David R. Stras


44 y.o., married to Heather Stras, and has two children. Jewish. Paternal grandparents are Holocaust survivors.

Current Position:

Judge, 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. Donald Trump in 2018. Confirmed by the Senate on Jan. 30, 2018. Originally nominated on May 8, 2017; no Senate vote.


University of Kansas, B.A., 1995
University of Kansas School of Business, M.B.A., 1999
University of Kansas School of Law, J.D., 1999


Judge Melvin Brunetti, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 1999-2000
Judge J. Michael Luttig, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2000-2001
Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court of the United States, 2002-2003

Previous Positions:

Associate, Sidley Austin, Washington, D.C., 2001-2002
Hugo Black faculty fellow, University of Alabama School of Law, 2003-2004
University of Minnesota Law School, 2004-2011

  • Associate professor of law, 2004-2010
  • Co-director, Institute for Law and Politics, 2007-2010
  • Associate professor of political science (through affiliation), 2008-2010
  • Vance K. Opperman research scholar, 2009-2010
  • Adjunct professor, 2011

Visiting professor of law, Washington University School of Law, 2008
Of Counsel,Faegre & Bensen, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2009-2010
Associate justice, Minnesota Supreme Court, 2010-2018. Appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Visiting professor, Vanderbilt University Law School, 2012
Adjunct professor, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, 2013
Adjunct faculty member, University of Iowa College of Law, 2014-


Comment, An Invitation to Discrimination: How Congress and the Courts Leave Most Partners and Shareholders Unprotected from Discriminatory Employment Practices, 47 U. KAN. L. REV. 239 (1998)
(With Ryan Scott) Retaining Life Tenure: The Case for a “Golden Parachute”, 83 Wash. U.L.Q. 1397 (2006)
(With Karla Vehrs) Foreward: The Future of the Supreme Court: Institutional Reform and Beyond, 90 Minn. L. Rev. 1147 (2006)
(With Ryan Scott) Are Senior Judges Unconstitutional?, 92 Cornell L. Rev. 453 (2007)
The Supreme Court’s Gatekeepers: The Role of Law Clerks in the Certiorari Process, 85 Tex. L. Rev. 947 (2007)
(With Ryan Scott) An Empirical Analysis of Life Tenure: A Response to Professors Calabresi & Lindgren, 30 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol. 791 (2007)
Why Supreme Court Justices Should Ride Circuit Again, 91 Minn. L. Rev. 1710 (2007)
Understanding the New Politics of Judicial Appointments, 86 Tex. L. Rev. 1033 (2008)
(With Ryan Scott) Navigating the New Politics of Judicial Appointments, 101 NW. L. Rev. 1869 (2008)
Pierce Butler: A Supreme Technician, 62 Vand. L. Rev. 695 (2009)
(Stephen Burbank, Charles Cooper, and James Lindgren) Showcase Panel II: Judicial Tenure: Life Tenure or Fixed Non-renewable Terms?, 12 Barry L. Rev. 173 (Spring 2009)
(With Arthur Hellman and Lauren Robel) Federal Courts: Cases and Materials on Judicial Federalism and the Lawyering Process (Ed. 1 – 4, 2009-2017)
(With Lauren Robel et al) Judicial Code Supplement: Title 28 and Related Statutes (2010,2013, 2015, & 2016)
(With Shaun Pettigrew) The Rising Caseload in the Fourth Circuit: A Statistical and Institutional Analysis, 61 S. C. L. Rev. 421 (2010)
The Supreme Court’s Declining Plenary Docket: A Membership-Based Explanation, 27 Const. Comm. 151 (2010)
(With James Spriggs), Explaining Plurality Opinions, 99 Georgetown L. J. 515 (2011)
(With Ryan Owens and David Simon) Explaining the Supreme Court’s Shrinking Docket, 53 William and Mary L. R. 1219 (2012)
(With Diane Sykes and James Wynn Jr) Panel Discussion: Judges’ Perspectives on Law Clerk Hiring, Utilization, and Influence, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 441 (2014)
Keynote Address: Secret Agents: Using Law Clerks Effectively, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 151 (2014)
(With Timothy Johnson and Ryan Black) Advice from the Bench (Memo): Clerk Influence on Supreme Court Oral Arguments, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 21 (2014)
(With Aaron Caplan et al) How the First Amendment Procedures Protect First Amendment Substance, 65 Cath. U. L. Rev. 185 (2015)

Judicial Opinions:

While on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, Stras has authored only one opinion in his short time on the court. In Brazil v. Arkansas Dept of Human Resources, a case involving claims of employment discrimination, the matter was whether the plaintiff was entitled to injunctive relief regarding a transfer. Given she had already accepted a transfer, the case was remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Stras has heard 22 cases on the court since his confirmation. The only Second Amendment case involved a person convicted of having unregistered silencers and unregistered short barreled rifles in violation of the NFA. In a per curium unpublished opinion, the court found that the District Court had made no errors and thus denied the appeal.


The Alliance for Justice opposed Stras' nomination to the 8th Circuit and continues to oppose Stras. They have called him an "ultra-conservative" who votes against persons with disabilities and voting rights. I think they are also mad at him for disparaging Sonia Sotomayor's testimony at her confirmation hearings as wooden and describing her as a "mediocrity". I can't disagree.

Diane Sykes

60 y.o., divorced, formerly married to Charlie Sykes, political commentator and talk show host from 1980-1999. Has two children with Sykes.

Current Position:

Judge, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Pres. George W. Bush and confirmed on June 24, 2004.


Northwestern University, B.S., 1980
Marquette University Law School, J.D., 1984


Judge Terence T. Evans, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, 1984-1985

Previous Positions:

Journalist, Milwaukee Journal, 1980-1981
Associate, Whyte & Hirschboeck, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1985-1992
Judge, Wisconsin Circuit Court, Milwaukee County, 1992-1999
Justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court, 1999-2004


Reflections on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, 89 Marq. L. Rev. 723 (2005-2006)
Of a Judiciary Nature: Observations on Chief Justice's First Opinions, 34 Pepp. L. Rev. 1027 (2006-2007)
Religious Liberties: The Role of Religion in Public Debate, 20 Regent U. L. Rev. 301 (2007-2008)
Citation to Unpublished Orders under New FRAP Rule 32.1 and Circuit Rule 32.1: Early Experience in the Seventh Circuit, 32 S. Ill. U. L.J. 579 (2007-2008)
Independence v. Accountability: Finding a Balance Amidst the Changing Politics of State-Court Judicial Selection, 92 Marq. L. Rev. 341 (2008-2009)
Gender and Judging, 94 Marq. L. Rev. 1381 (2010-2011)
The New Federalism: Confessions of a Former State Supreme Court Justice, 38 Okla. City U. L. Rev. 367 (2013)
Minimalism and Its Limits, 2014-2015 Cato Sup. Ct. Rev. 17 (2014-2015)
(With David Stras and James Wynn Jr) Judges' Perspectives on Law Clark Hiring, Utilization, and Influence, 98 Marq. L. Rev. 441 (2014-2015)

Judicial Opinions:

The key case for our purposes involving Judge Sykes was Ezell v. City of Chicago (2011) where Sykes wrote the opinion. She found that Chicago's ban on gun ranges violated the Second Amendment. The follow-on Ezell II case also featured an opinion by Sykes who said Chicago's zoning of ranges was so restrictive that only 2.2% of the area qualified and none in places where they would commercially viable.


Sykes was criticized by the Alliance for Justice for her decision in Ezell (no surprise!), for refusing an en banc hearing for a discrimination case involving AutoZone, for reinstating Wisconsin's Voter ID law, and finally for saying that for-profit companies could challenge the contraception mandate of ObamaCare.