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7th Circuit rehears Second Amendment case

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals judges in Chicago didn’t take the issue of Second Amendment rights lightly when they heard oral arguments en banc Thursday for United States of America v. Steven M. Skoien, No. 08-3770.

That case, which a 7th Circuit panel first heard April 6, 2009, and decided Nov. 18, involved Steven Skoien, a Wisconsin man who had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence charges and admitted he had used a hunting rifle to kill a deer. He was prohibited from owning a gun as a condition of his probation for his domestic violence misdemeanor conviction.

At issue in the argument was the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, often called the Brady Bill, which states that gun ownership is prohibited for, among others, anyone who has been convicted of a felony; those who have been adjudicated to be mentally ill; someone who has had a misdemeanor conviction of domestic violence where the defendant was an intimate partner, parent, guardian, or someone who had a child with the victim; and those who are subject to a protective order.

Skoien’s attorney, Michael W. Lieberman of the Federal Defender Services of Wisconsin Inc., started his argument by saying that “the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental individual right,” referring to the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008).

But one of the judges quickly cut him off, saying it’s not that the 7th Circuit doesn’t respect the Heller decision, but “to say the Second Amendment creates an individual right, that seems to say that is the beginning of the conversation not the end.”

Another judge then asked Lieberman if the Second Amendment should also apply to 3-year-olds and the mentally ill. He agreed that the amendment shouldn’t apply to children, and that the Founding Fathers didn’t consider the rights of children when drafting the amendment. But Lieberman did say the line gets “fuzzy” when it comes to who could or couldn’t own a firearm in terms of adults who can own firearms.

Judges also asked him if he thought that convicted felons also shouldn’t lose civil liberties other than Second Amendment rights, such as the right to vote. One judge asked if Lieberman thought there was a constitutional difference between convicts losing their Second Amendment rights and the widely accepted laws that take away a convict’s right to vote – whether it’s a felon or misdemeanant, depending on the state.

Lieberman said he wasn’t sure there was a difference, and emphasized that his client was not a felon, and that a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence wasn’t enough of a reason for him to lose his Second Amendment rights indefinitely.

The court then responded that there were scenarios where a convicted felon or misdemeanant could restore his Second Amendment rights, such as expungement or pardon. The court added that they weren’t there to weigh the possibility of a scenario where rights would be restored, but stated the possibility was there.

The time frame for how long a convict loses his Second Amendment rights was also addressed when Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreeben argued on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice.

When a judge asked him if there could or should be a state law that would limit how long someone’s Second Amendment rights were taken away, he said that in Nevada and California there were similar laws that allowed someone to reinstate his or her rights, depending on various factors.

But, Dreeben added, even if Wisconsin passed such a law “tomorrow,” as one judge asked, Skoien would not be a good candidate to get his rights back under such a law, considering his history of recidivism when it comes to domestic violence convictions.

In his arguments, Dreeben also argued that Congress added domestic violence misdemeanors to the list of those prohibited from having a gun under the Brady Bill as a response to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act. That act, he said, sent a message that even if crimes against women, such as domestic violence, aren’t considered a felony in all jurisdictions, it is something that is not to be taken lightly by the community, including judges.

He also responded to Lieberman’s arguments that taking a gun away from someone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor doesn’t necessarily reduce the risk of a domestic homicide according to statistics Lieberman cited in his briefs.

“Guns, which are valuable for self defense, are for the same reasons very threatening when placed in the hands of people who are dangerous with them,” Dreeben said.
 

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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