Hulbert v. Pope goes to Trial!
We at Maryland Shall Issue send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jeff Hulbert. Jeff passed this morning (5/3/2021) surrounded by his loved ones after a lengthy and valiant battle against cancer. He was an outspoken and stalwart proponent of individual rights and a fierce supporter of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Jeff founded the Patriot Picket, a group that "hits the bricks" with stylized signs and pointed political messages in promotion and defense of those rights. Please keep the Hulbert family in your thoughts and prayers as we remember and honor Jeff.
A Decision Three Long Years in the Making (and it still isn't over)
The First Amendment protects the right to advocate so in fundamentally important ways, the First Amendment helps protect the Second Amendment. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, including unlawful arrests. So when two MSI members, Jeff and Kevin Hulbert, were arrested on the sidewalks of Annapolis on the evening of February 5th, 2018 for holding edgy signs that criticized the powers that be in the General Assembly, MSI and the Hulberts swiftly filed suit in federal court in Baltimore for a violation of their First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights. The arresting officers were named as defendants, but they are represented by counsel from the State Attorney General's Office.
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Video of arrests on 2/5/2018 - "1st Amendment Under Attack"
In an opening gambit, the defendants first moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim, but that effort failed when the Court didn't buy it. Then extensive discovery ensured, which was delayed with the pandemic. That discovery showed that the arrests that night stemmed from a call from the Governor's mansion to have the group moved because the "mansion" did not want to be bothered with questions or attempts at conversations by the protestors. Everyone (including the defendants and other officers at the Capitol Police) admitted that these orders came from the "mansion," but, amazingly, no one at the "mansion" could identify who gave the orders. We did discover that such orders happen as often as twice a month, or whenever someone at the "mansion" decides that the "mansion" does not want to deal with completely peaceful protestors lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. We can only wonder at the identity of this "mansion" person.
March Litigation Update and Other News
1. The Rapid Fire Trigger Activator case:
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The Supreme Court case is MSI v. Hogan
, No. 20-855 (US). There, MSI and the individual plaintiffs have challenged as a Taking Maryland's ban on possession of previously lawfully owned and acquired "rapid fire trigger activators." We lost that challenge in the Fourth Circuit in a split 2-1 decision, with a compelling and lengthy dissent by Judge Richardson. MSI v. Hogan
, 963 F.3d 356 (4th 2020). We have thus filed a petition for certiorar
i with Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the Fourth Circuit's ruling. MSI also filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in The Modern Sportsman, LLC v. United States
, No. 20-1077 (Fed. Cir.), where a similar Takings issue is pending arising from the ATF's regulatory ban on bump stocks. That case was heard by the Federal Circuit at oral argument on December 8 and a decision is pending. The theory is simple: If the government is going to ban the possession of lawfully acquired private property and thereby destroy all property rights in that property, then the State should pay for it. The State's Opposition to our petition for certiorari is due on March 29, after which we will file a reply brief. We may have a decision by the Court on whether to hear the case in late April or May. If the petition is granted, the case will be fully briefed over the summer with oral argument likely in the Fall.