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America’s Future’s Files Amicus Brief with SCOTUS in Separation of Powers Case

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On Monday, January 29, 2024, America’s Future filed an Amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in Cargill v Merrick B. Garland, U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, et al. Dkt. No. 22-976. In this case, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is the petitioner – defendant and Mr. Michael Cargill is the respondent-plaintiff. America’s Future has filed a previous Amicus brief in this case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which can be found here.

The Amicus briefs were filed in support of Mr. Cargill and in support of striking down a 2019 DOJ firearm regulation as an unlawful overreach by an executive branch agency and usurpation of legislative powers. We urge the SCOTUS to affirm the en banc judgment from the full bench of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in doing so find in favor of Mr. Cargill.  We further urge the SCOTUS to instruct the DOJ to execute a nationwide vacatur of the regulation at issue, as an unlawful governmental overreach. The SCOTUS public docket can be accessed here.

The issue presented to the SCOTUS is, 

Whether a bump stock device is a “machinegun” as defined in 26 U.S.C. 5845(b) because it is designed and intended for use in converting a rifle into a machinegun, i.e., into a weapon that fires “automatically more than one shot * * * by a single function of the trigger.”

This case focuses on a December 26, 2018 DOJ interim final rule (IFR), purporting to merely amend or, as stated in the IFR, “clarify” the meaning and characteristics of “machineguns,” as defined by statute, even though the primary characteristic of a “machinegun” has never been overly complex and is generally considered the automatic discharge of multiple rounds with only one trigger pull or in one shot.

Indeed, known as the “Bump Stock Rule,” the IFR expanded the “characteristics” of “machineguns” to such an extent that the DOJ, an executive branch agency, plainly usurped the authority and power to make law constitutionally conferred to the legislative branch.  But why would the DOJ want to expand the definition?  Considering 18 U.S.C. § 922(o)(1) criminalizes ownership of “machineguns” by civilians,  stretching the definition so that it encompasses the most ordinary or popular firearms, naturally swells the power, authority and leverage that the DOJ wields over Americans, law-abiding or not, and, at the same time, thickens the administrative state we live under.

Mr. Cargill initiated the lawsuit on March 25, 2019, the same day that he surrendered his semiautomatic firearm with bump stock to the ATF on account of the IFR taking effect the next day (March 26, 2019), transforming Mr. Cargill from a law-abiding productive citizen at 11:59 p.m. into a criminal at 12:00 a.m. without him lifting a finger.

At stake in this case is not only the Second Amendment, but also rights of due process and the fundamental American legal principle of Separation of Powers.  The current administration and its departments and agencies should not be permitted to manufacture new laws through a “legislative shortcut” of agency rulemaking.  It is impermissible under our system of checks and balances.

Now more than ever, Americans are discovering the depth of corruption that rots the federal government and all its agencies.  The DOJ, the Department of Education), the Department of Health and Human Services, and the rest of them are in a foul state of decay, and yet this IFR illustrates the great lengths that the administrative state will go to bend Americans to their will and defeat our right to live free. For Separation of Powers to survive, the SCOTUS must affirm the en banc judgment of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, rule fully in favor of Mr. Cargill, and vacate the DOJ’s IFR, nationwide, striking it down as unlawful and another example of government overreach.

America’s Future defends the constitutional rights of Americans.  The DOJ’s IFR, at issue, glaringly contravenes our Separation of Powers Doctrine – one of our most sacred tools against tyranny. 

Editor’s Note: To read all of our Amicus briefs, please visit our Law & Policy page.

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