The Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and nationally-recognized gun rights advocate Alan Gottlieb have shifted their civil rights lawsuit against Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to state court.
The original action was filed earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Washington State, but according to an announcement from SAF and CCRKBA, the lawsuit, which may be viewed here. has been shifted in hopes this will bring “a speedier resolution” to the case.
“We believe we will do better in the state courts, considering Ferguson’s loss before the state Supreme Court earlier this year in the long running Value Village case,” said Gottlieb, who is SAF founder and Executive Vice President, and also serves as CCRKBA chairman. “The state high court ruled unanimously that Ferguson’s office ‘improperly used Washington Consumer Protection and Charitable Solicitations Acts to suppress constitutionally protected speech with which he disagreed.’”
Ferguson, a Democrat and outspoken gun control supporter, is running for governor in 2024 to succeed outgoing three-term Gov. Jay Inslee, the failed one-time presidential candidate whose green energy/climate change campaign did not resonate with Democrat primary voters.
Joining SAF, CCRKBA and Gottlieb in the lawsuit are the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the Service Bureau Association, Merril Mail Marketing and Liberty Park Press. They are represented by attorneys Steven W. Fogg and Jack M. Lovejoy at Corr Cronin LLP in Seattle.
In addition to Ferguson, the newly-filed state lawsuit names Assistant Attorney General Joshua Studor and several “John does” as defendants. Ferguson and Studor are being sued individually and in their official capacities.
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, alleges that Ferguson and his colleagues have “used their powers to target citizens simply because they do not share Mr. Ferguson’s personal beliefs.”
Ferguson has advocated for more restrictive gun control laws, which Gottlieb and the CCRKBA have opposed, and SAF has sued Ferguson in federal court in challenges to Washington’s bans on semiautomatic rifles and “large capacity’ magazines. Those actions are currently making their way through the court process.
The lawsuit also notes that “The Washington Supreme Court recently reprimanded Mr. Ferguson…when it held unanimously that his office had improperly used the Washington Consumer Protection and Charitable Solicitations Acts to suppress constitutionally protected speech with which he disagreed.”
The lawsuit came after the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office carried out an expansive and highly intrusive probe into the private affairs of SAF, CCRKBA, CDFE, SBA, LPP, MMM, Gottlieb and his family. It has served Civil Investigative Demands (“CIDs”) on each of the plaintiffs, including two on Gottlieb, citing the same consumer protection laws which the state Supreme Court ruled Ferguson and his office had abused in the Value Village case.
“After much deliberation, we felt it was best to move this lawsuit to state court where the Washington Attorney General has already been held to account for abusing his office’s authority,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “SAF has, and continues to, cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office by providing requested information, offering employees for depositions, and delivering updated documents before they are requested. We are ambivalent that the Washington Courts will put a swift end to the Attorney General’s continuing undue harassment stemming from his seeming desire to score cheap political points by copying one of his colleague’s tactics to bolster his otherwise unimpressive resume for his gubernatorial bid.”