On Monday, the Supreme Court of Missouri heard oral arguments about the constitutionality of a new state law that bans local law enforcement from enacting federal gun laws.
At the oral arguments regarding the state’s “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” the judgest kept on questioning lawyers on both sides whether a lower court should have handled the challenge differently.
A judge at a lower court rejected a challenge to the said law that was brought by St. Louis city and county as well as Kansas City officials back in August, so they appealed to the higher court.
The law bans police officers from enacting federal gun laws that the state finds “invalid.” it also carries a possible $50,000 penalty for violations.
Hearing on Missouri Gun Law Challenge Focuses on “Procedures”
On Monday, the judges asked several questions, including whether the city should have asked Circuit Judge Daniel Green, the judge who had rejected the challenge, to declare the law invalid, along with their request for a stay on the enforcement of the said law.
The judges also asked why the cities haven’t managed to resolve the issue in up to five pending lawsuits filed by gun prosecution defendants in Cole County.
To this, Robert H. Dieker Jr., an associate St. Louis city counselor, replied that the city and counties do not need to wait to be sued or violate the said legislation before they look for a court’s declaration that the legislation itself is invalid.
According to Dierker, cities are at risk of seeing several, possibly conflicting outcomes of lawsuits that may take place in different jurisdictions. He added that the cities had already requested Green declare the gun law invalid even before the suit was dismissed.
TODAY: The Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments this afternoon in a case challenging the Second Amendment Preservation Act. House Bill 85 prohibits attempt to enforce any laws, rules and orders violating the Second Amendment rights of Missourians. @KOMUnews pic.twitter.com/S6bE3PpKCr
— Lucy Caile (@lucycaile) February 7, 2022
Missouri Solicitor General D. John Sauer described the request to have the state Supreme Court resolve the case at this point as an “extraordinary departure from this court’s jurisprudence” and an attempt to “short-circuit” what should take place.
Sauer also suggested that the Supreme Court could pass the case back to Green for a review of the constitutional issues.
While it wasn’t discussed at length during the Monday hearing, Dierker stated that the law had several constitutional defects, adding that it should have been called “the separation of powers destruction act.”
Dierker, along with other lawyers, argued that the law’s ban on enforcement of federal law intrudes on the judges and local government’s power and ability to hire as it includes a provision that bans the employment of someone who had enforced federal gun laws.
Even though the law forbids federal gun laws’ enforcement, Dieker stated that it is “unintelligible” and that it leaves officials “completely at sea” when it comes to which federal laws are at issue.
Meanwhile, Sauer rejected this in court filings, claiming that the state is not required to help federal agencies enforce federal law. He also said that the legislation is constitutional.
Thread. Missouri's state government passed a law last year making it *illegal* for local police to cooperate with the FBI, ATF, and DHS on *any* Federal firearms crime – including domestic terrorism.
Tomorrow, the law faces the Missouri Supreme Court. https://t.co/HClrBnXcR8
— Eric Garland (@ericgarland) February 6, 2022
The Cities’ Concerns
In their appeal, the cities state that the legislation may also prevent state and local officers from taking part in important task forces with federal officials.
Officials who back the law argue that it’s needed to prevent federal officials from trying to enforce new gun control rules.
Gun rights groups, including the Missouri Firearms Coalition, also put their two cents about the issue, arguing that the law is necessary because “gun rights are in a precarious situation in America.”
A separate lawsuit is asking a judge for clarifications on the provisions of the law, and it is also moving in lower courts. A group of around 60 Missouri police chiefs started supporting the suit filed by the city of Arnold last month. The said police chiefs are connected to the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association or the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.