Today is a big day for the Montana Firearms Freedom Act. In the litigation to validate the principles of the MFFA, the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the Second Amendment Foundation and I are all Plaintiffs. The U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is the principal Defendant, thus the case caption of MSSA v. Holder.
The first hurdle in this lawsuit is the pending U.S. Motion to Dismiss. The feds argue that the lawsuit should be dismissed immediately – should not go to trial – because Plaintiffs lack “standing,” because the U.S. is sovereign and may not be sued (“jurisdiction”), and because of merit (they say we’ll lose so why waste time discussing the issue).
This Motion to Dismiss was expected, and is pretty standard, boilerplate legal maneuvering. Still, we must respond and respond well. If we lose on the Motion to Dismiss, we will have to appeal that dismissal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We’d rather move on directly to trial in the lawsuit on the merits of the MFFA arguments than get sidetracked with an appeal over dismissal.
Judge Molloy, in whose court this is lodged, is thought by attorneys to be fair and interested in this issue, and has a reputation for being something of a scholar. Nevertheless, there is some conjecture that he might favor the Motion to Dismiss just to get this hot potato of national consequence out of his lap. I disagree with that conjecture but I have no real evidence to support my disagreement. I think Judge Molloy is not afraid of controversy or work. And, this case may present a more interesting intellectual challenge than other cases before his court.
So, it is necessary for our side to mount a full court press on all the issues the U.S. has raised in their Motion to Dismiss.
To that end, it is VERY helpful that so many other states have climbed onto this FFA bandwagon, a phenomenon called “emerging consensus” by the courts. Six other states have enacted clones of the MFFA and 20 others have introduced FFA bills.
Plus, there are a number of amici (plural of “amicus curiae” – friends of the court) parties that have joined the fray. Collectively, they bring a lot of weight to our side.
Today is the deadline for Plaintiffs’ brief in response to the federal Motion to Dismiss. Today is also the deadline for most amici to have submitted their petitions to join the suit and for amici’s briefs in opposition to the Motion to Dismiss. Today will be a day of much activity and filing of documents with the federal court.
The entities that have already petitioned for entry as amici or are cueing up to do so include:
The Goldwater Institute of Arizona
The Attorney General of Utah (representing Utah and the AGs of some other states)
The Weapons Collectors Society of Montana (thanks for the support WCSM)
The Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (representing legislators who’ve sponsored FFA bills in other states)
The Paragon Foundation of New Mexico
Gun Owners Foundation (Gun Owners of America)
Montana Legislators (who supported the MFFA in the Montana Legislature)
Each of the amici will address different and useful aspects of the law relating to the case.
You might guess that I’ve been working behind the scenes for months to ravel all of this into a concerted and comprehensive effort – a great cat-herding exercise.
We don’t know how quickly Judge Molloy will rule on the Motion to Dismiss, but it will probably take a month or two.
Meanwhile, MSSA volunteer Webmaster Michael is doing a great job of posting documents as they become available to the “Montana Lawsuit Updates” page of our Website at:
Check there if you want to read any of the briefs as they are submitted and posted.
Stay tuned, campers. It should be an interesting exercise in freedom.