McIntosh v. Washington, No. 12073.

Docket NºNo. 12073.
Citation395 A.2d 744
Case DateOctober 24, 1978
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

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395 A.2d 744
Marion R. McINTOSH et al., Appellants,
v.
Walter E. WASHINGTON et al., Appellees.
No. 12073.
District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
Argued December 14, 1977.
Decided October 24, 1978.

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COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED

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Tedson J. Meyers, Washington, D. C., with whom Charles R. Work, Timothy J. Waters, and Collister Johnson, Jr., Washington, D. C., were on the briefs and supplemental memorandum, for appellants.

David P. Sutton, Asst. Corp. Counsel, Washington, D. C., with whom John R. Risher, Jr., Corp. Counsel, Washington, D. C., at the time the case was briefed and argued, and Richard W. Barton, Deputy Corp. Counsel, Washington, D. C., were on the brief and supplemental memorandum, for appellees.

Candace S. Kovacic, Washington, D. C., with whom James S. Campbell, Washington, D. C., was on the brief, for National Council to Control Handguns as amicus curiae.

Before NEWMAN, Chief Judge, and KELLY and HARRIS, Associate Judges.

KELLY, Associate Judge:


On June 26, 1976, the District of Columbia Council (the Council) enacted the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975 (the Act or the Firearms Act).1 The legislation was signed by the Mayor on July 23, 1976, and was sent to Congress for a 30-day review in accordance with § 1-147 of the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act (the

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Home Rule Act)2 Resolutions to disapprove the Firearms Act were introduced in the House of Representatives (122 Cong. Rec. H8017 and H8103) (daily ed. July 29 and 30, 1976), but were unsuccessful; consequently, the Act became effective as D.C.Law 1-85 on September 24, 1976.3

In an action for declaratory and injunctive relief filed in the Superior Court on November 18, 1976, appellants.4 sought to declare the Firearms Act invalid and to enjoin its enforcement on grounds that the Act is an unauthorized exercise of the Council's legislative powers and that it violates certain designated provisions of the United States Constitution5 After hearing arguments of counsel, the trial court enjoined the enforcement of the Act. Appellees promptly appealed the grant of the injunction and moved for a stay.6 On February 4, 1977, following argument on the motion, this court, by written order, granted the stay, stating:

The underlying premise of the trial court's order here is that the City Council was without any power (because of the limitation in the District of Columbia Self Government Act § 602(a)(9), codified § 1-147(a)(9)) to promulgate the new Firearms Act. Under authority of Maryland and D. C. Rifle & Pistol Association v. Washington, 142 U.S.App.D.C. 375, 442 F.2d 123 (1971), we hold that the premise is clearly wrong. We do not, however, intimate any view about whether particular provisions of the new Act might be invalid because they conflict with Title 22 or violate some constitutional provision. See Pistol Ass'n, supra at 377 n. 9 [442 F.2d 123]. Nor do we intimate any view about whether those conflicting provisions, if any, might be severable.

Thereafter, cross-motions for summary judgment on the merits were filed in the trial court, which ultimately granted the motion of appellees and denied that of the appellants. In its written order disposing of the motions, the court held that the enactment of the Firearms Act was a valid exercise of the Council's congressionally delegated legislative power. It rejected all but one of appellants' constitutional attacks on the Act.7 Appellants here reiterate their

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arguments that the Firearms Act is an unauthorized exercise of the legislative powers delegated to the Council by the Home Rule Act, that it is unconstitutional, and that it conflicts with the provisions of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act (DCAPA).8 For the reasons which follow, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

In Part I of this opinion we decide the threshold issue of the Superior Court's jurisdiction to entertain actions for declaratory judgment. In Part II, we consider whether the Firearms Act is an ultra vires measure which was enacted by the council beyond the scope of its delegated powers. We examine the constitutional challenge to the Act in Part III, and in Part IV we discuss briefly the procedural (DCAPA) claims that appellants have raised. Part V deals with specific claims of two appellants.

I

A declaratory judgment is one which determines and declares the rights of the parties without being immediately coupled with a coercive decree. Aetna Life Insurance Co. v. Haworth, 300 U.S. 227, 241, 57 S.Ct. 461, 81 L.Ed. 617 (1937). It is essentially an equitable action, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Huffman, 319 U.S. 293, 300, 63 S.Ct. 1070, 87 L.Ed. 1407 (1943), and differs from other equitable actions on the question of immediate relief sought rather than on jurisdictional concerns. Aetna Life Insurance Co. v. Haworth, supra.

The concept that a court possessing general equity jurisdiction9 has authority to grant declaratory relief as an incidental power inherent in such jurisdiction is firmly established in our jurisprudence. See, e. g., Sharon v. Tucker, 144 U.S. 533, 544-48, 12 S.Ct. 720, 36 L.Ed. 532 (1892); Fidelity National Bank & Trust Co. v. Swope, 274 U.S. 123, 132, 47 S.Ct. 511, 71 L.Ed. 959 (1927); Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Wallace, 288 U.S. 249, 263-64, 53 S.Ct. 345, 77 L.Ed. 730 (1933); Petition for Kariher, 284 Pa. 455, 131 A. 265 (1925); Borchard, Declaratory Judgments 137-49 (2d ed. 1941); 1 Anderson, Actions for Declaratory Judgments §§ 1-2 (1951).

In Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. v. Wallace, supra 288 U.S. at 263, 53 S.Ct. at 348, the Supreme Court stated:

While the ordinary course of judicial procedure results in a judgment requiring an award of process or execution to carry it into effect, such relief is not an indispensable adjunct to the exercise of the judicial function. Fidelity National Bank v. Swope, supra, 1927. This Court has often exerted its judicial power to adjudicate boundaries between states, although it gave no injunction or other relief beyond the determination of the legal rights which were the subject of controversy between the parties, Louisiana v. Mississippi, 202 U.S. 1, 26 S.Ct. 408, 50 L.Ed. 913; Arkansas v. Tennessee, 246 U.S. 158, 38 S.Ct. 301, 62 L.Ed. 638; Georgia v. South Carolina, 257 U.S. 516, 42 S.Ct. 173, 66 L.Ed. 347; Oklahoma v. Texas, 272 U.S. 21, 47 S.Ct. 9, 71 L.Ed. 145; Michigan v. Wisconsin, 272 U.S. 398, 47 S.Ct. 114, 71 L.Ed. 315, and to review judgments of the Court of Claims, although no process issues against the Government. United States v. Jones, 119 U.S. 477, 7 S.Ct. 283, 30 L.Ed. 440; compare District of Columbia v. Eslin, 183 U.S. 62, 22 S.Ct. 17, 46 L.Ed. 85; Ex parte Pocono Pines Hotels Co., 285 U.S. 526, 52 S.Ct. 392, 76 L.Ed. 923, reported below in 73 Ct.CI. 447. As we said in Fidelity National Bank v. Swope, supra, 274 U.S. 132, 47 S.Ct. 511, "Naturalization proceedings, Tutun v. United States, 270 U.S. 568, 46 S.Ct. 425, 70 L.Ed. 738; suits to determine a matrimonial or other status; suits for instructions

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to a trustee or for the construction of a will; Traphagen v. Levy, 45 N.J.Eq. 448; 18 A. 222; bills of interpleader so far as the stakeholder is concerned, Wakeman v. Kingsland, 46 N.J.Eq. 113, 18 A. 680; bills to quiet title where the plaintiff rests his claim on adverse possession, Sharon v. Tucker, 144 U.S. 533, 12 S.Ct. 720, 36 L.Ed. 532; are familiar examples of judicial proceedings which result in an adjudication of the rights of litigants, although execution is not necessary to carry the judgment into effect, in the sense that damages are required to be paid or acts to be performed by the parties." See also Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner, supra [279 U.S. 724], 725, 49 S.Ct. 499, 73 L.Ed. 918; La Abra Silver Mining Co. v. United States, 175 U.S. 423, 20 S.Ct. 168, 44 L.Ed. 223.

State appellate courts have also recognized that quite apart from such statutory enactments as the Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, (12 U.L.A.) § 1 et seq. (which has been adopted by numerous states), declaratory judgment procedures have existed and been used in many areas of the law, both in English and American practice. See, e. g., Petition of Kariher, supra; Lynn v. Kearney County, 121 Neb. 122, 236 N.W.2d 192 (1931).

In 1934, Congress passed the Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, which is now incorporated at 28 U.S.C. § 2201. In affirming the constitutionality of the statute in face of a challenge that it purported to extend the jurisdiction of the federal courts beyond the constitutional limit of "cases" and "controversies," the Supreme Court, in Aetna Life Insurance Co. v. Haworth, supra 300 U.S. at 241, 57 S.Ct. at 464, said:

Where there is such a concrete case admitting of an immediate and definitive determination of the legal rights of the parties in an adversary proceeding upon the facts alleged, the judicial function may be appropriately exercised although the adjudication of the rights of the litigants may not require the award of process or the payment of damages. Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. Co. v. Wallace, supra, 288 U.S. p. 263, 53 S.Ct. 345; Tutun v. United States, 270 U.S. 568, 576, 577, 46 S.Ct. 425; Fidelity National Bank v. Swope, 274 U.S. 123, 132, 47 S.Ct. 511; Old Colony Trust Co. v. Commissioner, supra [279 U.S.], p. 725, 49 S.Ct. 499. And as it is not essential to the exercise of the judicial power that an injunction be sought, allegations that irreparable injury is threatened are not required. Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. Co. v. Wallace, supra [288 U.S.], p. 264, 53 S.Ct. 345. By its reliance upon such cases as Nashville, C. & St. L. Ry. Co. v. Wallace, supra, and Fidelity National Bank & Trust Co. v. Swope, supra, the Supreme Court reflected its continued recognition of: (1) the existence of federal court jurisdiction to grant declaratory relief before the enactment of the Federal Declaratory Judgment...

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58 practice notes
  • WINTERS v. RIDLEY, No. 90-18
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 4, 1991
    ...views of a subsequent Congress12 form a hazardous basis for inferring the intent of an earlier one." McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 750 (D.C. 1978) (quoting United States v. Price, 361 U.S. 304, 313, 80 S.Ct. 326, 332, 4 L.Ed.2d 334 (1960)). See also Holt v. United States, 565 A......
  • Gary v. United States, No. 83-796
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 17, 1985
    ...Congress of the burden of legislating upon essentially local District matters." D.C.Code § 1-201 (1981). See McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 753 (D.C. 1978). These purposes continue to be served absent the veto provision. The invalidity of the one-house veto does not remove congr......
  • Thomas v. US, No. 91-CF-113
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 9, 1994
    ...months. See Pub.L. No. 94-402, 90 Stat. 1220 (1976) (codified in D.C.Code § 1-233(a)(9) (1992)); see also McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 750 n. 12 7 Accord United States v. Dixon, 347 U.S. 381, 384-85, 74 S.Ct. 566, 568, 98 L.Ed. 785 (1954); In re Estate of Posey, 89 N.J.Super. 293, ......
  • Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07–290.
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 26, 2008
    ...of Appeals' statement that the statute forbids residents to use firearms to [128 S.Ct. 2819] stop intruders, see McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 755–756 (1978). 28 Apart from his challenge to the handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement respondent asked the District Court to enjoi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
58 cases
  • WINTERS v. RIDLEY, No. 90-18
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 4, 1991
    ..."The views of a subsequent Congress12 form a hazardous basis for inferring the intent of an earlier one." McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 750 (D.C. 1978) (quoting United States v. Price, 361 U.S. 304, 313, 80 S.Ct. 326, 332, 4 L.Ed.2d 334 (1960)). See also Holt v. United States, 565 A......
  • Gary v. United States, No. 83-796
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • October 17, 1985
    ...Congress of the burden of legislating upon essentially local District matters." D.C.Code § 1-201 (1981). See McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 753 (D.C. 1978). These purposes continue to be served absent the veto provision. The invalidity of the one-house veto does not remove congressio......
  • Thomas v. US, No. 91-CF-113
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 9, 1994
    ...months. See Pub.L. No. 94-402, 90 Stat. 1220 (1976) (codified in D.C.Code § 1-233(a)(9) (1992)); see also McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 750 n. 12 7 Accord United States v. Dixon, 347 U.S. 381, 384-85, 74 S.Ct. 566, 568, 98 L.Ed. 785 (1954); In re Estate of Posey, 89 N.J.Super. 293, ......
  • Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, No. 07–290.
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 26, 2008
    ...of Appeals' statement that the statute forbids residents to use firearms to [128 S.Ct. 2819] stop intruders, see McIntosh v. Washington, 395 A.2d 744, 755–756 (1978). 28 Apart from his challenge to the handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement respondent asked the District Court to enjoi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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