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GOA v Garland - Bump stock ban


Euler
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Besides Gun Owners of America (GOA), the petitioners also include

  • Virginia Citizens Defense League,
  • Matt Watkins (as an individual MI resident, slidefire owner, and member of GOA),
  • Tim Harmsen (as an individual and as an FFL in IN who owns/deals bumpfire stocks, operator of the YouTube Military Arms Channel -- MAC, and member of GOA), and
  • Rachel Malone (as an individual and as TX state director of GOA).

 

This forum also has a thread on Aposhian v Garland, which is another bump stock case petitioned to the Supreme Court. In that case, the ATF also waived Chevron deference, but the courts gave it Chevron deference, anyway.

 

Docket

Petition for Certiorari said:

...

The questions presented are:

  1. Whether the definition of "machinegun" found in 26 U.S.C. §5845(b) is clear and unambiguous, and whether bump stocks meet that definition?
  2. Whether Chevron deference should be given to agency interpretations of ambiguous criminal statutes, displacing the rule of lenity?
  3. Whether courts should give deference to agencies when the government expressly waives Chevron?

...

Petitioners challenge a regulation promulgated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), which reinterpreted the statutory term "machinegun" found in 26 U.S.C. §5845(b) to include popular "bump stock" accessories used on semi-automatic rifles. ... The Final Rule banned possession of bump stocks, ordered their surrender or destruction by March 26, 2019, and threatened criminal sanction for their continued possession.

...

This "bump fire" technique is possible with or without a bump stock, which in no way alters the mechanical operation of the semi-automatic firearm to which it is attached.

...

Purporting to "apply[] the ordinary tools of statutory construction" and promising to analyze "[t]he statutory language in ... context," the district court examined dictionary definitions of "automatic" and found ambiguity in "whether the word 'automatically' precludes any and all application of non-trigger, manual forces ... for multiple shots to occur." ... Similarly, the district court concluded that "the phrase 'single function of the trigger' ... can have more than one meaning," and "[t]he statute does not make clear whether function refers to the trigger as a mechanical device or ... the impetus for action that ensues." ... Finally, the court concluded that each of ATF's interpretations constituted "a permissible interpretation" of the statute, and denied Plaintiffs' motion.

...

On March 25, 2021, a Sixth Circuit panel reversed the district court's denial of Petitioners' preliminary injunction motion.

...

Finding that the Final Rule was not owed Chevron deference, the panel proceeded to interpret and apply the meaning of "single function of the trigger" within the definition of "machinegun." ... Finding, as the district court had, that dictionary definitions "lend[] support to both interpretations," the panel then proceeded to "the context of the rest of the statute," which "weighs heavily in [Petitioners'] favor" because "the phrase plainly refers only to the 'single function of the trigger' ... not 'the trigger finger.'"

...

On June 25, 2021, the Sixth Circuit granted the government's Petition for Rehearing En Banc, vacating the panel's decision. After further briefing and argument, the court issued an "Order" without majority opinion on December 3, 2021, having "divided evenly, with eight judges voting to affirm the judgment of the district court and eight judges voting to reverse."

...

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For those (like me) who don't know -

 

Chevron Deference

One of the most important principles in administrative law, The “Chevron Deference” is a term coined after a landmark case, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 468 U.S. 837 (1984), referring to the doctrine of judicial deference given to administrative actions.  In Chevron, the Supreme Court set forth a legal test as to when the court should defer to the agency’s answer or interpretation, holding that such judicial deference is appropriate where the agency’s answer was not unreasonable, so long as the Congress had not spoken directly to the precise issue at question.  The scope of the Chevron deference doctrine is that when a legislative delegation to an administrative agency on a particular issue or question is not explicit but rather implicit, a court may not substitute its own interpretation of the statute for a reasonable interpretation made by the administrative agency. 
 
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On 5/6/2022 at 2:06 PM, JTHunter said:

For those (like me) who don't know -

 

Chevron Deference

One of the most important principles in administrative law, The “Chevron Deference” is a term coined after a landmark case, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 468 U.S. 837 (1984), referring to the doctrine of judicial deference given to administrative actions.  In Chevron, the Supreme Court set forth a legal test as to when the court should defer to the agency’s answer or interpretation, holding that such judicial deference is appropriate where the agency’s answer was not unreasonable, so long as the Congress had not spoken directly to the precise issue at question.  The scope of the Chevron deference doctrine is that when a legislative delegation to an administrative agency on a particular issue or question is not explicit but rather implicit, a court may not substitute its own interpretation of the statute for a reasonable interpretation made by the administrative agency. 
 

Might need you to dumb that one down a bit, like Biden level dumb. 

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  • 1 month later...

This case as well as the Aposhian case, and several others pending at the district and circuit level will highly depend on what is said in Two different case opinions. One with the EPA and West Virginia, and on the AHA case. As both of those cases rely on different aspects and uses of the Chevron Defference reasoning. 
 

Once SCOTUS isssues the opinions on those two cases. These two cases will receive a decision as well.

 

Both of these cases will either receive a denial, or they will get A PC. With a Grant, reverse, remand. I am sure with opinions and dissents.

 

One of the two cases might get granted with oral arguments, and the other case put on hold. But I honestly doubt that would happen.

 

I also doubt that both of these cases will be denied as well. Otherwise they would have been denied allready.

 

Reason being is simple. No matter what is said, or who wins or looses in Both the AHA and EPA/WV cases. What is said in their opinions about Chevron Deference and how it is to bused etc… WILL have some impact on the Aposhian and GOA bump stock cases.

 

However… while we want a win, to stop the ATF from arbitrarily issueing rules and mandates about firearms banning this or that without congress actually passing a bill into law. Keep in mind. That Our federal legislature, or even state legislatures could still pass a bill into law that could still ban bump stocks.

 

The 2A question on if bump stocks are covered under the 2A and a law banning them is unconstitutional still has not yet been presented to SCOTUS. That will be a question that eventually will make its way back to court as various states go about banning them on a state level.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/13/2022 at 2:22 PM, Texasgrillchef said:

This case as well as the Aposhian case, and several others pending at the district and circuit level will highly depend on what is said in Two different case opinions. One with the EPA and West Virginia, and on the AHA case. As both of those cases rely on different aspects and uses of the Chevron Defference reasoning. 
 

Once SCOTUS isssues the opinions on those two cases. These two cases will receive a decision as well.

 

Both of these cases will either receive a denial, or they will get A PC. With a Grant, reverse, remand. I am sure with opinions and dissents.

 

One of the two cases might get granted with oral arguments, and the other case put on hold. But I honestly doubt that would happen.

 

I also doubt that both of these cases will be denied as well. Otherwise they would have been denied allready.

 

Reason being is simple. No matter what is said, or who wins or looses in Both the AHA and EPA/WV cases. What is said in their opinions about Chevron Deference and how it is to bused etc… WILL have some impact on the Aposhian and GOA bump stock cases.

 

However… while we want a win, to stop the ATF from arbitrarily issueing rules and mandates about firearms banning this or that without congress actually passing a bill into law. Keep in mind. That Our federal legislature, or even state legislatures could still pass a bill into law that could still ban bump stocks.

 

The 2A question on if bump stocks are covered under the 2A and a law banning them is unconstitutional still has not yet been presented to SCOTUS. That will be a question that eventually will make its way back to court as various states go about banning them on a state level.

So we got the EPA Ruling, not sure what AHA was.

For the EPA, I am guessing congress has to explicitly give an agency the power and authority to do or enforce “X”, not some protect the air type of mandate? Does it mean congresses, state and federal, ACTUALLY have to do their job now?

 

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On 6/30/2022 at 3:14 PM, mab22 said:

So we got the EPA Ruling, not sure what AHA was.

For the EPA, I am guessing congress has to explicitly give an agency the power and authority to do or enforce “X”, not some protect the air type of mandate? Does it mean congresses, state and federal, ACTUALLY have to do their job now?

 

AHA = American Hospital Association, HHS = The Department of Health and Human Services

The case is AHA v HHS.

 

Federal law lays out how hospitals can be reimbursed for drugs prescribed to Medicare patients. In 2018 and 2019, the HHS decided to reimburse hospitals that serve low-income populations less. The power to restrict Medicare payments based on the class of hospital or its type of patients is not included in the law, so AHA sued, won in district court, lost in circuit court, and finally won in a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling last week.

 

The EPA case is WV v EPA, which is actually a consolidation of 4 cases.

 

Section 111 of the Clean Air Act of 1970 directs the EPA to use what it considers the "Best System of Emission Reduction" (BSER) to reduce overall pollution levels. It outlines 3 options: using "cleaner" coal-fired power production, shifting to natural gas production, and shifting to carbon-neutral production. The intent was to grandfather existing coal plants while newer, non-coal plants were built, eventually phasing out coal. (There weren't supposed to be new coal plants.) In 2015, the EPA used Section 111 to cap carbon emissions from power plants on a per-facility basis to expedite the end of coal-fired power. Interestingly, the Biden administration had announced a different plan, attempting to get this case mooted. (Remember the NYSRPA v NYC case and how it got mooted?) The Supreme Court did not moot the case. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 111 did not give the EPA the power to devise individual facility caps.

 

So how does all of that apply to the NFA and the ATF's bump stock rule?

 

First, the above cases don't nullify the NFA. The above cases apply the Medicare and Clean Air laws, which are acts of Congress, to their respective cases. NFA is an act of Congress. There might be basis in the NYSRPA ruling to challenge the NFA, but that will be a different case.

 

Second, the issue is what the NFA actually says. (The NFA defines machine gun as firing multiple shots with a single trigger pull.) Alternatively, the charter of the ATF (which I haven't read) gives it regulatory power. So between the NFA and the ATF charter, how much power is actually spelled out for the ATF? Does the ATF have the power to define (redefine) what a single trigger pull is? Unless there are orders released next week that were decided this week, we're going to have to wait at least until October to see if this case gets a grant.

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The AHA and WV cases will have impact on the Bump Stock cases as it relates to the control that The ATF has. While neither case has eliminated Chevron Deference. It has in fact severely limited it’s use. It has done so through the use of the Major questions doctrine. 
 

Now how does the Major Questions Doctrine affect our bump stock cases? That will take some study of course.

 

It is interesting to see that Both Bump stock cases at SCOTUS level have yet to be denied or granted cert as of yet.

 

Something will happen next term though in October. It is interesting to note, that while WV and AHA have been decided, they also did not make any decisions of granting or denying either bump stock case before the end of this term either.

 

Neither case has raised any question of Constitutionality based on either the 2A or 14a. So while that maybe an issue latter down the road, it isn’t now.

 

As far as the NFA goes, it’s being challenged by Texas now. While one point of the Texas lawsuit is all about Silencers, if they win the the Silencer case. With the way Texas is pursuing that case, it will knock down most of the rest of the NFA as well. Not all of it mind you, but most of it. however the Texas case, doesn’t have anything to do with the ATF rule making process.

 

The issue at hand with Bump Stocks, Pistol Braces and “Ghost guns” is all about the rule making process. Does the ATF have that Authority when congress have left the question vague. Does Chevron deference apply? Does the Major questions doctrine apply? If so to what degree. Some of it was answered in WV and AHA. Some of it was not.

 

None the less. We won’t get those questions answered by SCOTUS until next year. Right now everything is speculation. Educated or otherwise.

 

There is a clear reason though, that none of the lawyers have even brought up to the courts anything to do with the 2A or 14A. We are saving that for another day.

 

Right now the point of these cases is to stop the ATF from being able to make future more arbitrary rules in the future. (as well of course to allow bump stocks again)

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