823 F.3d 537 (10th Cir. 2016), 14-1290, Colorado Outfitters Ass'n v. Hickenlooper

Docket Nº:14-1290, 14-1292
Citation:823 F.3d 537
Opinion Judge:MORITZ, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:COLORADO OUTFITTERS ASSOCIATION; COLORADO FARM BUREAU; NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION; MAGPUL INDUSTRIES; COLORADO YOUTH OUTDOORS; USA LIBERTY ARMS; OUTDOOR BUDDIES, INC.; WOMEN FOR CONCEALED CARRY; COLORADO STATE SHOOTING ASSOCIATION; HAMILTON FAMILY ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a Family Shooting Center at Cherry Creek State Park; DAVID BAYNE; ...
Attorney:Richard A. Westfall, Hale Westfall, LLP, Denver, Colorado (Peter J. Krumholz, Hale Westfall, LLP, Denver, Colorado, Marc F. Colin, Bruno Colin & Lowe PC, Denver, Colorado, Anthony J. Fabian, Law Offices of Anthony J. Fabian PC, Castle Rock, Colorado, and Douglas Abbott, Holland & Hart LLP, Denver...
Judge Panel:Before HOLMES, McHUGH, and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:March 22, 2016
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
 
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823 F.3d 537 (10th Cir. 2016)

COLORADO OUTFITTERS ASSOCIATION; COLORADO FARM BUREAU; NATIONAL SHOOTING SPORTS FOUNDATION; MAGPUL INDUSTRIES; COLORADO YOUTH OUTDOORS; USA LIBERTY ARMS; OUTDOOR BUDDIES, INC.; WOMEN FOR CONCEALED CARRY; COLORADO STATE SHOOTING ASSOCIATION; HAMILTON FAMILY ENTERPRISES, INC., d/b/a Family Shooting Center at Cherry Creek State Park; DAVID BAYNE; DYLAN HARRELL; ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHOOTERS SUPPLY; 2ND AMENDMENT GUNSMITH & SHOOTER SUPPLY, LLC; BURRUD ARMS INC., d/b/a Jensen Arms; GREEN MOUNTAIN GUNS; JERRY'S OUTDOOR SPORTS; SPECIALTY SPORTS & SUPPLY; GOODS FOR THE WOODS, Plaintiffs - Appellants,

v.

JOHN W. HICKENLOOPER, Governor of the State of Colorado, Defendant - Appellee.

JIM BEICKER, Sheriff of Fremont County; RICK BESECKER, Sheriff of Gunnison County; RONALD BRUCE, Sheriff of Hinsdale County; DAVID D. CAMPBELL, Sheriff of Baca County; JAMES (JIM) CASIAS, Sheriff of Las Animas County; MILES CLARK; JOHN B. COOKE; JAMES CRONE, Sheriff of Morgan County; DOUGLAS N. DARR; CHAD DAY, Sheriff of Yuma County; RICK DUNLAP, Sheriff of Montrose County; DAVID ENCINIAS, Sheriff of Bent County; MIKE ENSMINGER, Sheriff of Teller County; JAMES FAULL; ROD FENSKE, Sheriff of Lake County; SCOTT FISCHER, Sheriff of Jackson County; FORREST FRAZEE; PETER GONZALEZ; BRUCE W. HARTMAN, Sheriff of Gilpin County; SHAYNE HEAP, Sheriff of Elbert County; FRED HOSSELKUS, Sheriff of Mineral County; TIM JANTZ; FRED JOBE; CHRIS S. JOHNSON; RODNEY JOHNSON; DONALD KRUEGER; LARRY KUNTZ; SUE KURTZ; TERRY MAKETA; JERRY MARTIN, Sheriff of Dolores County; DOMINIC MATTIVI, JR., Sheriff of Ouray County; FRED D. MCKEE, Sheriff of Delta County; AMOS MEDINA, Sheriff of Costilla County; TED B. MINK; JOHN MINOR, Sheriff of Summit County; TOM NESTOR, Sheriff of Lincoln County; BRUCE NEWMAN, Sheriff of Huerfano County; MIKE NORRIS; BRIAN E. NORTON, Sheriff of Rio Grande County; RANDY PECK; BRETT L. POWELL, Sheriff of Logan County; KEN PUTNAM; TOM RIDNOUR, Sheriff of Kit Carson County; GRAYSON ROBINSON; DUKE SCHIRARD; JUSTIN SMITH, Sheriff of Larimer County; DENNIS SPRUELL; DAVE STONG; CHARLES " ROB" URBACH, Sheriff of Phillips County; LOU VALLARIO, Sheriff of Garfield County; DAVID A. WEAVER; FRED WEGENER, Sheriff of Park County; GARRETT WIGGINS, Sheriff of Routt County; SI WOODRUFF; DAVID STRUMILLO; JOHN " SMOKEY" KURTZ, Sheriff of Crowley County; STEVE REAMS, Sheriff of Weld County; MICHAEL T. MCINTOSH, Sheriff of Adams County; SAM ZORDEL, Sheriff of Prowers County; CASEY SHERIDAN, Sheriff of Kiowa County; RICHARD VALDEZ, Sheriff of Archuleta County; K. C. HUME, Sheriff of Moffat County; SHANNON KEITH BYERLY, Sheriff of Custer County; SHAWN MOBLEY, Sheriff of Otero County; BRETT SCHROETLIN, Sheriff of Grand County; RICHARD A. ALBERS, Sheriff of Clear Creek County; JON STIVERS, Sheriff of Washington County; BRUCE CONRAD, Sheriff of San Juan County; BILL ELDER, Sheriff of El Paso County; JEFF SHRADER, Sheriff of Jefferson County; DAN WARWICK, Sheriff of Saguache County; THOMAS JAMES HANNA, Sheriff of Sedgwick County; GABRIEL DAVID JOINER, Sheriff of Cheyenne County; DAVID C. WALCHER, Sheriff of Arapahoe County; SEAN MICHAEL SMITH, Sheriff of La Plata County; STEVE NOWLIN, Sheriff of Montezuma County; ROBERT JACKSON, Sheriff of Alamosa County; TONY SPURLOCK, Sheriff of Douglas County; ANTHONY MAZZOLA, Sheriff of Rio Blanco County, Plaintiffs - Appellants,

v.

JOHN W. HICKENLOOPER, Governor of the State of Colorado, Defendant - Appellee

Nos. 14-1290, 14-1292

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

March 22, 2016

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. (D.C. No. 1:13-CV-01300-MSK-MJW).

Richard A. Westfall, Hale Westfall, LLP, Denver, Colorado (Peter J. Krumholz, Hale Westfall, LLP, Denver, Colorado, Marc F. Colin, Bruno Colin & Lowe PC, Denver, Colorado, Anthony J. Fabian, Law Offices of Anthony J. Fabian PC, Castle Rock, Colorado, and Douglas Abbott, Holland & Hart LLP, Denver, Colorado, with him on the briefs), for Plaintiffs-Appellants Nonprofit Organizations, Disabled Firearms Owners, Firearms Manufacturers and Dealers, David Bayne, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Outfitters Association, Outdoor Buddies, Inc., Women for Concealed Carry, and Dylan Harrell.

David B. Kopel, Independence Institute, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiffs-Appellants Sheriffs and David Strumillo.

Matthew D. Grove, Assistant Solicitor General (Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Kathleen L. Spalding and Stephanie L. Scoville, Senior Assistant Attorneys General, and LeeAnn Morrill, First Assistant Attorney General), Colorado Department of Law, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee John W. Hickenlooper.1

Before HOLMES, McHUGH, and MORITZ, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 541

MORITZ, Circuit Judge.

The underlying issues in these appeals are significant and concern the extent to which the Second Amendment limits Colorado's power to regulate firearms and large-capacity magazines. But preliminarily, we first grapple with a more fundamental question: the extent to which Article III of the United States Constitution limits our power--and the district court's power--to hear the plaintiffs'[2] claims at all. Because we conclude the plaintiffs

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failed to establish Article III standing to bring any of their claims, we vacate the district court's order granting judgment for the defendant3 and remand with directions to dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction.

Background

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-112 and Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-302 became effective on July 1, 2013. With some exceptions, § 18-12-112 requires background checks for private firearm transfers that exceed 72 hours, while § 18-12-302 generally prohibits the possession, sale, and transfer of large-capacity magazines (LCMs),[4] again with some exceptions. In particular, § 18-12-302(3)(b)(II) exempts from the LCM ban those state and federal employees who carry firearms in the course of their official duties, while § 18-12-302(2)(a)'s grandfather clause allows individuals to possess LCMs they owned as of July 1, 2013, as long as they maintain continuous possession of the LCMs thereafter.

Several organizations, individuals, and businesses brought suit against Colorado's governor, John Hickenlooper, arguing the statutes violate the Second Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But it was clear from this litigation's inception that the plaintiffs' standing to assert these claims was less than assured; the parties litigated the issue at every turn. As the result of one of these bouts of jurisdictional wrangling, the district court concluded several Colorado sheriffs lacked standing to bring their claims and dismissed them from the case.

After a nine-day bench trial, the district court expressed skepticism that any of the remaining plaintiffs had established standing to challenge § 18-12-112 and § 18-12-302. Nevertheless, " with the benefit of some generous assumptions," it found that at least one plaintiff had standing to challenge each statute. App. at 1762. After winning the jurisdictional battle, however, the plaintiffs ultimately lost the war; the district court entered judgment in favor of the defendant on all claims.

The plaintiffs appeal, arguing the district court made both procedural and substantive errors in rejecting their claims. They insist the district court erred in, among other things, applying the incorrect level of scrutiny to the plaintiffs' Second Amendment claims; concluding the statutes survive intermediate scrutiny; ruling

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that § 18-12-302 isn't unconstitutionally vague; dismissing the plaintiffs' ADA claims; considering information that isn't part of the legislative record; and failing to provide any analysis to support certain evidentiary rulings. The defendant disagrees, maintaining we should affirm the district court's judgment in all respects.

Discussion

Under Article III of the United States Constitution, federal courts only have jurisdiction to hear certain " 'Cases' and 'Controversies.'" Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 2334, 2341, 189 L.Ed.2d 246 (2014) (quoting U.S. Const. art. III, § 2). To satisfy Article III's case-or-controversy requirement, a plaintiff must demonstrate standing to sue by establishing " (1) an 'injury in fact,' (2) a sufficient 'causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of,' and (3) a 'likel[ihood]' that the injury 'will be redressed by a favorable decision.'" Id. at 2341 (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992)).

Here, the district court expressed " profound reservations as to whether" any of the plaintiffs established standing to challenge § 18-12-112. App. at 1768. Nevertheless, " in the interests of providing a complete ruling," the district court " assume[d]" that three plaintiffs had done so. Id. Likewise, " in an attempt to find standing" and " with the benefit of some generous assumptions," the district court concluded that one plaintiff had standing to challenge § 18-12-302. Id. at 1761-62 and 1762 n.11.

But a federal court can't " assume" a plaintiff has demonstrated Article III standing in order to proceed to the merits of the underlying claim, regardless of the claim's significance. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94, 118 S.Ct. 1003, 140 L.Ed.2d 210 (1998) (explaining that " such an approach . . . carries the courts beyond the bounds of authorized judicial action and thus offends fundamental principles of separation of powers" ).5 Thus, our first task is to determine whether the district court's assumptions about standing were correct.6 If...

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