“The NRA’s Motion to proceed under pseudonyms…is DENIED,” in an Order signed by U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker on May 13, 2018. The National Rifle Association filed an Appeal on May 17, 2018. The Florida lawsuit, concerning the Safety Act, is “on-hold” until a decision by the Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit. [See documents at end of story].
“If it were entirely up to this court, this Court would not hesitate to grant the NRA’s motion. One need only look to the harassment suffered by some of the Parkland shooting survivors to appreciate the vitriol that has infected public discourse about the Second Amendment. And this Court has no doubt that the harassment goes both ways; [Former NRA President Marion P.] Hammer’s affidavit proves just that … People–especially teenagers–should not have to subject themselves to threats of violence, continued harassment, and a concerning amount of public scrutiny just to share their views about the Second Amendment (whatever those views may be).” [Order, p. 6-7].
But it is not entirely up to this Court.
“[T]his Court is bound to follow precedent set by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.” … That Court “made it clear that pseudonyms may only be used in ‘exceptional’ cases … In determining whether Jane and John Doe have such a right, this Court starts its analysis with the following three factors: (1) whether they are ‘seeking anonymity challenging governmental activity,’ (2) whether they will be ‘required to disclose information of the utmost intimacy’, [sic] and (3) whether they will be ‘compelled to admit their intention to engage in illegal conduct and thus risk criminal prosecution.’” [Order; citations omitted; p. 7-8]. These factors did not persuade the Court.
“In sum, based on the precedent that binds this Court (particularly Doe v. Stegall), this Court finds that mere evidence of threats and harassment made online is insufficient to outweigh the customary and constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial proceedings. This is especially true where the targets of such threats and harassment are not minors and where the subject at issue does not involve matters of utmost intimacy.” [Order, p. 16]
“To be fair, a lot has changed in society since Stegall was decided. Today we have the internet, social media, and the 24-hour news cycle. What this means is that if a person attaches their [sic] name to a lawsuit–and especially if that lawsuit is sensational–then everyone will quickly be aware of it. Articles posted online, and the responding comments, tweets, and whatever-else-have-yous often devolve into a rhetorical barrage of hate. Unfortunately, it seems the internet just doesn’t always bring out the best in us.” [Order, p. 16]
“Maybe the law should be modified to reflect these changes. But it’s not this Court’s job to change the law; this Court’s job is to apply the law.” [Order, p. 17]
Actually, it is up to this Court.
Whose signature is at the end of a court order? Laws and procedure are changed or ignored often by judges, who are persuaded by parties’ arguments or cultural changes. A meritorious challenge can and does lead to new precedents.
But why risk a ruling reversed on appeal, ponders a judge, trying to preserve a bureaucratic batting average. Reality check: They fry your brain when you take the bar exam. They remove common sense when you become a lawyer. Finally, they remove your spine when you become a judge.
And then there are the activist judges who cite a “penumbra” (Latin for “I’m pulling this new idea out of my butt”) to effectively legislate from the bench. American jurisprudence is riddled with bad decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could have agreed to allow pseudonyms, but no.
The parties could have jointly agreed to allow pseudonyms.
But it is about precedent, wrote the Florida Attorney General. Plaintiffs are exploring a new area of law. And, but – but – but, what about a factual inquiry?
Really? We can stipulate the plaintiffs are citizens of Florida; one is male and the other is female; both are age 19; and they can’t buy any firearm. (Absent exceptions like military or law enforcement).
Admit it, liberals, you really do want to take all of our guns.
We did something, see voters? The jitterbug was danced by Florida Governor Rick Scott, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and the Republican-majority Florida Legislature. In the Safety Act, there will be studies; illusory self-defense by teacher-administrators, who likely will never jump through the many hoops of certification; and all bureaucrats will keep their jobs without penalties. O.k, so there is $1 million for a memorial.
Borrow the bogeyman
During Nazi Germany: Blame the Jews. Shun them. Isolate them as “extremists” and “terrorists.” Take their wealth. Use a lynch mob, then murder them. [See Geller Report concerning scapegoats by Muhammad, Iran, and HAMAS – CAIR]
Today, blame the NRA. Shun them. Isolate them as “extremists” and “terrorists.” Deplete their wealth (banks and insurers) via government bureaucracies, and threaten businesses with loss of “reputation.” Use electronic lynch mobs via news, social media, and the internet.
Good luck, 19-year-old plaintiffs, with your lives.
Wow. 19 years old and plaintiffs in an NRA lawsuit about the U.S. Constitution. Unless there is reversal by the appellate court, everything about you – names, photos, addresses – will be on the internet. Didn’t you think this through? I mean, what about college or jobs? After all, NRA activists are security threats with the likely protests and violence from liberals. And what about the reputations of colleges or businesses? Good luck submitting your college applications or resumes. At least faced with actual threats of violence in Florida: You 19-year-old plaintiffs can arm yourselves… No, wait, you can’t.
The above would be avoided by pseudonyms in the lawsuit. Thanks a lot, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and the judicial system. Consider that, voters…
For details of the lawsuit’s origin, read the Geller Report. Read these documents:
- NRA’s Motion to Proceed with Pseudonyms
- NRA’s Memorandum in Support
- NRA’s affidavit [WARNING: Graphic content]: Declaration of Marion P. Hammer
- Florida Attorney General’s Response in Opposition
- NRA’s Reply in Support
- NRA’s Notice of Appeal
- Order Denying Motion
Gerald Lostutter is a Florida licensed attorney, college professor, journalist, and life member of the National Rifle Association.
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