Monday, August 30, 2004

Order in the (Kangaroo) Court

The University of Utah's lawsuit to overturn parts of Utah's concealed weapons law was argued before the Utah Supreme Court today.

In a nutshell, the University of Utah has a policy that bans employees and students from possessing firearms on campus. This means no compact 9mm in your purse, no .30-30 in your truck, not even a .22 in your dorm room. The Utah Attorney General issued an opinion a couple of years ago that confirmed the University was required to comply with Utah's pre-emption law, which prevents municipalities and state agencies from making firearms policy that conflicts with any state gun law.

Predicably, the University thumbed their nose at the AG and filed a "friendly" lawsuit to overturn the law. "Friendly" in the sense that the University got to go to court, the most friendly place for anti-gun liberals. In short order, they had convinced a district court judge to say "Law? We don't need no steenking law!" and thus preserve the status quo.

In response, during its last session the Legislature changed the law to clarify that as a state agency, the University was required to obey the law (what a concept, especially for liberals).

The University responded with a yawn, and the AG appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.

I don't wish to sound pessimistic, but this is all a dog-and-pony-show for Republican AG Mark Shurtleff's re-election campaign. The Supreme Court is the place where the University wanted to go in the first place. The University couldn't find a more accomodating group of stooges if they had appealed to the Brady Campaign itself.

Need proof? Well, take a gander at the biographies of the current 5 justices of the Utah SC. Pay special attention to where they went to school:

Chief Justice Christine Durham: BYU Law School professor (good), University of Utah Law School professor (bad), appointed by a Democrat (bad), has very liberal views (very bad).

Justice Michael Wilkins: University of Utah graduate.

Justice Matthew Durrant: Harvard Law School.

Justice Jill Parrish: Yale Law School.

Justice Ronald Nehring: Another U of U graduate.

That's three votes that are almost sure to go the U's way, and two more that are probably more anti-gun than pro-gun. In reality, the best outcome we gun owners could hope for would be a narrow 3-2 victory for the University.

Why? Because there are literally dozens of public school districts, and the state's other universities, and even some cities (Salt Lake City, Park City, Moab) that are chomping at the bit to gut Utah's pre-emption law. If the University wins in a blowout, the litigation floodgates will be opened, and they will all begin to defy the law.

With the Supreme Court on their side, the strongly pro-gun Legislature will become irrelevant.

With a narrow victory, the outcome will be less sure, and most school districts and universities won't want to waste money and piss off the Legislature unless they know they could win.

Captain Holly's prediction? A 5-0 slam dunk for the University.

Utah's gun owners have been spoiled. Thanks to our efforts, we've gotten a very friendly Legislature and a smart-enough-to-go-along Governor to pass some very good laws during the past decade. Liberalized concealed carry, strong pre-emption, reciprocity of permits all came to pass through our tireless lobbying.

But during that time, these supposedly pro-gun governors and legislators appointed and approved justices that didn't share our views. And as a result we are going to suffer our first big defeat in a long, long time.

We're going to have to force some of our friends in the Legislature and Governor's office to make some hard decisions. Like cutting the budgets of defiant universities and school systems. Firing University presidents and regents who support defying the law. And, if necessary, impeaching judges who think that the laws of Utah are mere guidelines.

It won't be pretty. But if we don't stop this now, we can pretty much kiss all of our recent gains goodbye. Once it gets out that the Utah Supreme Court is willing to ignore the law, even the very strong RKBA Amendment in the Utah Constitution won't save us.


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