Supreme Court Urged to Reverse Awful Ninth Circuit Decision Allowing Governments to Take Guns From People Who Can Legally Own Firearms
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 21, 2020) — Today, attorneys for California Gun Rights Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, and a California resident filed a petition at the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of an improperly decided Ninth Circuit ruling. The recent case filings in Rodriguez v. San Jose can be viewed at www.cagunrights.org/work.
One night in January 2013, Lori Rodriguez sought assistance for her husband. After he was compassionately placed into the care of mental health professionals, a San Jose Police Department officer told Lori that he would need to seize all of their guns, which were safely locked away out of the reach of her husband, including one handgun exclusively owned by and registered to her. In spite of the fact that Mrs. Rodriguez did not give consent and objected to it, San Jose Officer Steven Valentine took all of the family’s guns from her without a warrant.
Since then, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Firearms has confirmed that Mrs. Rodriguez is a law-abiding person with no firearms disability, and that the guns the City seized and continues to hold are all registered only to her. But the City of San Jose continues to refuse Lori’s efforts to recover them, even though state laws say she can.
On July 23, 2019, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to defendants, in part on grounds that had not been raised or ruled upon below. In a published opinion the court held that the Respondents were excused from obtaining a warrant to seize Petitioner Rodriguez’s property under a “community caretaking” exception. It also shifted the burden to Petitioner to prove the availability of telephonic warrants and ignored the City’s complete lack of explanation or excuse for its failure to seek a warrant. In a separate unpublished memorandum opinion, filed the same day, the panel affirmed the district court’s rejection of Petitioners’ Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claims and her pendant state law claims.
“Mrs. Rodriguez has at all times complied with California’s many gun control laws, including those requiring locked storage. 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,” explained Donald Kilmer, the petitioners’ lead attorney. “The Constitution does not have a ‘gun’ exception to fundamental Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, 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, 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,” said attorney Erik Jaffe, a Supreme Court attorney for the petitioners. “Constitutional amendments are not mere suggestions. 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.”
- Whether the Fourth Amendment allows an exception to its warrant requirement for so-called “community caretaking” where the alleged danger to the community has been resolved and the premises to be searched and items then seized do not contain or pose an immediate threat making it impossible to obtain a timely warrant?
- Whether issue preclusion can bar a claim for deprivation of a constitutional right where the prior decision discussing the constitutional issue did not depend on resolving the merits of that issue, found state-law procedures remained that could moot the claimed infringement, and thus could not have been further reviewed in this Court given that the constitutional claim would be seen as unripe and potentially avoided by adequate and independent state grounds?
- Whether this Court should exercise its supervisory powers to review the improper circumvention of Second Amendment protections in the Ninth Circuit or, at a minimum, hold this case for No. 18-280, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. City of New York?
California Gun Rights Foundation (www.cagunrights.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that serves its members, supporters, and the public through educational, cultural, and judicial efforts to advance Second Amendment and related civil rights.
Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, the Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.