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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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.
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' claims at all. Because we conclude the plaintiffs
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.
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), 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
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.
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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