WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 4, 2019) — Today, attorneys for Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation filed opening briefs in their consolidated appeals with the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in the ongoing federal litigation challenging the confiscatory “bump-stock” ban rulemaking by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Copies of the briefs and related filings are available at BumpStockCase.com.
On February 25, United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich denied motions for preliminary injunction in the matters. The ruling came little over one year after President Trump directed the Department of Justice, at the time headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to “as expeditiously as possible” propose “a rule banning all” bump-stock type devices. The challenged Final Rule was signed by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and published December 18, 2018.
Counsel for FPC and FPF filed notices of appeal on February 25, and on February 26, they requested an expedited appeal schedule from the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Last Friday, March 1, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit granted FPC’s and FPF’s joint motion to expedite the briefing and arguments, setting today as the deadline to file the opening briefs. The government’s answering brief will be due on March 13, and the appellants’ reply brief will be due on March 15. Oral arguments will be heard by the Court of Appeals on March 22 at 9:30 a.m.
In its brief, FPC argues that the Rule is invalid because it was issued by then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. FPC explains that the designation of Mr. Whitaker – who was neither in the Department of Justice chain of command nor confirmed by the Senate – to serve in that role was both illegal and unconstitutional.
In the Guedes appeal, FPF argues that the text of the federal statutes at issue in the Final Rule are clear and unambiguous, that the rule of lenity precludes the ATF’s proposed new definition of ‘machinegun’, and that the rule is unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. The brief also argues that the “district court abused its discretion in finding the statutory language ambiguous and erred as a matter of law in according ATF Chevron deference regarding the terms ‘single function of the trigger’ and ‘automatically’.”
Thomas C. Goldstein, Daniel Woofter, Charles H. Davis, and Erica Oleszczuk Evans of Goldstein & Russell, P.C., are on the brief for the FPC appeal. Attorneys Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., and Erik Jaffe of Schaerr Jaffe LLP are on the brief for the FPF appeal.
Unless the appeals result in a temporary injunction or stay of enforcement, the ATF’s Final Rule will take effect on March 26, when the federal government will consider the affected devices to be illegal “machinguns” and carry severe criminal penalties including large fines and up to ten years in federal prison.
FPC and FPF remain committed to protecting Americans who own and possess bump-stock devices from the ATF’s unlawful Final Rule.
Attorney Tom Goldstein (www.goldsteinrussell.com) is an appellate advocate, best known as one of the nation’s most experienced Supreme Court practitioners. He has served as counsel to a party in well over 100 merits cases at the Court, personally arguing 42. Only 3 lawyers in the Court's modern history have argued more cases in private practice. He has been counsel on more successful petitions for certiorari over the past decade than any other lawyer in private practice. Over the past fifteen years, the firm's petitions for certiorari have been granted at a higher rate than any private law firm or legal clinic. In addition to practicing law, Tom has taught Supreme Court Litigation at Harvard Law School since 2004, and previously taught the same subject at Stanford Law School for nearly a decade. Tom is also the co-founder and publisher of SCOTUSblog (www.scotusblog.com) – a web-site devoted to comprehensive coverage of the Court – which is the only weblog ever to receive the Peabody Award.
Attorney Erik S. Jaffee (www.schaerr-jaffe.com) is a 1990 graduate of the Columbia University School of Law and was a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1990 to 1991. Following that clerkship he spent five years in litigation practice with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly. In the summer of 1996 he left Williams & Connolly to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. At the end of that clerkship he started his own practice, and has been a sole practitioner since 1997. Mr. Jaffe has been involved in over 100 Supreme Court matters, including filing 30 cert. petitions, representing half-a-dozen parties on the merits, and filing over 60 amicus briefs at both the cert. and merits stages.
Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Firearms Policy Foundation (www.firearmsfoundation.org) is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.