The Second Amendment Foundation just set a record for being a gun rights organization with the most cases seeking review from the Supreme Court of the United States at any other time, and one of those cases even has its sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, as a plaintiff.
Attorneys for SAF and its lawsuit partner, the California Gun Rights Foundation, filed a brief to the high court on Friday. They are suing on behalf of plaintiff Lori Rodriguez. Her firearms were seized in 2013 after her husband was taken to a hospital on a mental health issue. A San Jose police officer at the time advised Rodriguez he had authority to seize all firearms in the residence, including those belonging solely to her, which were all locked in a California-approved safe. The guns were seized without a warrant, and over Rodriguez’s objection.
“This case is a travesty,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Lori Rodriguez is not a criminal, nor is she prohibited by law from owning firearms. Yet she’s essentially been robbed by the City of San Jose and its police department, with the cooperation of lower courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“When a municipal government agency can seize property without a warrant,” he added, “and be protected by the lower courts in so doing, it is time for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and right this dangerously tilted ship before it capsizes.”
The three other SAF-related cases already submitted for Supreme Court review are Pena v. Cid, Mance v. Barr and Culp v. Madigan. The Mance case involves CCRKBA as a plaintiff.
The case has been making its way through the lower courts for seven years. Curiously, even though the courts recognize that Lori Rodriguez could legally purchase new firearms, San Jose authorities simply refuse to return the guns she already legally owns. Last summer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment to the defendants, ruling the defendants were allowed to seize her guns under a concept called “community caretaking.”
Attorneys in the case were quoted in a press release from the California gun group.
“Mrs. Rodriguez has at all times complied with California’s many gun control laws, including those requiring locked storage,” said plaintiff’s noted civil rights attorney Don Kilmer. “But the City of San Jose outrageously continues to refuse to return the constitutionally protected property they unlawfully took from her years ago. Governments have no reason and no right to take guns from law-abiding people who are legally eligible to keep and bear arms, full stop.
“The Constitution does not have a ‘gun’ exception to fundamental Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights,” Kilmer added, “but that is exactly what the Ninth Circuit’s dangerous decision means. We hope the Supreme Court will vindicate our clients’ rights and restore the rule of law in the Ninth Circuit.”
“In the United States,” noted appellate attorney Erik Jaffe in Washington, D.C., “governments cannot take a law-abiding woman’s property, without a warrant, and refuse to give it back. And not only are the City of San Jose and its police department doing just that, they also violated her fundamental Second Amendment rights in the process.
“Constitutional amendments are not mere suggestions,” Jaffe said. “This case offers a vehicle for the Supreme Court to remind lower courts and government agencies that constitutional principles are not different or diminished in cases involving firearms.”
Gottlieb noted that SAF’s longtime slogan has been “Winning Firearms Freedom One Lawsuit at a Time.”
“Now we hope to do it four lawsuits at a time,” he quipped.
In June 2010, the high court ruled in favor of SAF’s McDonald v. City of Chicago, the case that nullified Chicago’s 30-year-handgun ban and incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.