Second Amendment Group Secures Victory in Court to Protect the Right to Block Unconstitutional Firearms Laws
December 22, 2022 – San Diego, California – The San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a political action committee (PAC) promoting and advocating for Second Amendment rights, won in court and stopped an attempt to bankrupt plaintiffs who sue to protect their Second Amendment rights against California’s unconstitutional firearms laws.
The win in Miller II allows Second Amendment groups to continue to challenge the constitutionality of gun laws enacted in Sacramento without the fear of having to pay millions in fees to Newsom’s government – essentially ending any future litigation options.
“As plaintiffs, we are proud for our win in court which opens the path so we can all move forward to restore our Second Amendment rights in California” said Michael Schwartz, SDCGO executive director.
Plaintiff SDCGO asked a judge to rule in a case involving Senate Bill 1327, passed by California legislators in summer 2022. SB1327 requires any citizen or group suing the government on Second Amendment grounds to pay for the government’s legal fees if even one of their legal claims is dismissed. The plaintiff’s attorneys also would be on the hook. The so-called “fee-shifting provision,” would make it financially impossible to litigate a Second Amendment case. U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez halted enforcement of the fee-shifting provision and allowed the continuation of a lawsuit challenging SB 1327. The lawsuit, titled Miller v. Bonta (Miller II), is named after SDCGO Advisory Board Member Jim Miller.
“This ruling in Miller II in our favor is a big, big win,” said Schwartz. “The ruling allows Second Amendment groups like SDCGO to continue to challenge the constitutionally of anti-gun laws enacted in Sacramento like SB 1327, without the fear of having to pay millions in fees to Newsom’s government. The ruling in Miller II ensures that our elected officials can continue to be held accountable for their actions.
Although California Attorney General Bonta has decided to not fight the judge’s decision, Governor Newsom has taken the extreme and unusual move of asking if his privately funded attorneys can take over defending the State’s ability to bankrupt plaintiffs who try to restore their constitutional rights in court.
“Bonta knows the lunacy of SB 1327. That’s why he decided not to defend it. So, instead, he passed-off the case to Newsom who is taking over the defense of this ridiculous law. Bonta knows this case is unwinnable, but Newsom doesn’t care because he will stop at nothing to restrict our fundamental freedoms. Thanks to our efforts, other cases can move forward.”
In his ruling, Benitez wrote “This Court concludes that the purpose and effect of (SB 1327) is to trench on a citizen’s right of access to the courts and to discourage the peaceful vindication of an enumerated constitutional right. Because the state fee-shifting statute undermines a citizen’s constitutional rights, it is this Court’s role to declare its invalidity and enjoin its threat.”
Benitez also wrote that effect of SB 1327, if enacted, would make “any attorney understandably reluctant, if not terrified.”
“This victory wouldn’t be possible without help from our members and allies said Schwartz. “We will continue the fight to block unconstitutional firearms laws, so it isn’t over. We take the fight to defend the Second Amendment wherever we need to, at the voting booth, at the Capitol, or in court. We will not go quietly into the night while Newsom and his allies try to silence us.”
“We take the fight to defend the Second Amendment wherever we need to — at the voting booth, at the State Capitol, or in court,” said Michael Schwartz, executive director of San Diego County Gun Owners PAC. “We will not go quietly into the night while Newsom and his allies try to silence us, and this victory makes that clear,” he said.
Founded in 2015, San Diego County Gun Owners is a registered political action committee (FPPC ID #1379388) and advocacy organization focused on organizing the gun industry and protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. Based on its membership size of more than 3,400 individuals, SDCGO is considered San Diego’s largest registered PAC as well as largest local civil rights organization. SDCGO features a diverse and inclusive membership with representatives from the LGBTQ, Latino, African American, Asian and Pacific Islander communities. For more information, visit www.sandiegocountygunowners.com.