BELLEVUE, WA – Attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation have filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of their case challenging the City of San Jose and its police department in a case involving the seizure of legally-owned firearms and refusal to return them.
This makes the fourth SAF case now awaiting action by the high court. No other gun rights organization has ever had this many pending cases submitted to the Supreme Court at the same time, said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb.
SAF is joined by the California Gun Rights Foundation on behalf of plaintiff Lori Rodriguez. Her firearms were seized in 2013 after her husband was taken to a hospital on a mental health issue. A San Jose police officer at the time advised Rodriguez he had authority to seize all firearms in the residence, including those belonging solely to her, which were all locked in a California-approved safe. The guns were seized without a warrant, and over Rodriguez’s objection.
The case has been making its way through the lower courts for seven years, even though the courts recognize that Lori Rodriguez could legally purchase new firearms. San Jose authorities simply refuse to return the guns she already legally owns. Last summer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision to grant summary judgment to the defendants, ruling the defendants were allowed to seize her guns under a concept called “community caretaking.”
“This case is a travesty,” Gottlieb stated. “Lori Rodriguez is not a criminal, nor is she prohibited by law from owning firearms. Yet she’s essentially been robbed by the City of San Jose and its police department, with the cooperation of lower courts, including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“When a municipal government agency can seize property without a warrant,” he added, “and be protected by the lower courts in so doing, it is time for the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and right this dangerously tilted ship before it capsizes.”
“Mrs. Rodriguez has at all times complied with California’s many gun control laws, including those requiring locked storage,” said plaintiff’s noted civil rights attorney Don Kilmer. “But the City of San Jose outrageously continues to refuse to return the constitutionally protected property they unlawfully took from her years ago. Governments have no reason and no right to take guns from law-abiding people who are legally eligible to keep and bear arms, full stop. The Constitution does not have a ‘gun’ exception to fundamental Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights, but that is exactly what the Ninth Circuit’s dangerous decision means. We hope the Supreme Court will vindicate our clients’ rights and restore the rule of law in the Ninth Circuit.”
Highly-respected appellate attorney Erik Jaffe in Washington, D.C., who also represents the plaintiffs, added, “In the United States, governments cannot take a law-abiding woman’s property, without a warrant, and refuse to give it back. And not only are the City of San Jose and its police department doing just that, they also violated her fundamental Second Amendment rights in the process. Constitutional amendments are not mere suggestions. This case offers a vehicle for the Supreme Court to remind lower courts and government agencies that constitutional principles are not different or diminished in cases involving firearms.”
The three other SAF-related cases already submitted for Supreme Court review are Pena v. Cid, Mance v. Barr and Culp v. Madigan. The Mance case involves SAF’s sister organization, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as a plaintiff.
“SAF has been winning firearms freedom one lawsuit at a time,” Gottlieb observed, “but now we hope to do it four lawsuits at a time.”
The Second Amendment Foundation (www.saf.org) is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.