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4th Shut Out of SCOTUS So Far, But Guns and Libertarians Await

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By William Peacock, Esq. on October 09, 2013 3:57 PM

This is odd.

Out of all of the thirteen circuits, only one, the Fourth Circuit, has zero cases set for argument before the High Court. As part of our Supreme Court Week here at FindLaw, we're going through the big cases in each circuit that sit before SCOTUS, yet, for the Fourth there are none, nor are there any state cases from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, or West Virginia, according to Cert Pool.

None, for now. Though this circuit was shut out of the early grants and arguments, there are currently 126 petitions for certiorari from this circuit, plus a handful from each state, and here are a few that have gathered amici interest.

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Judd v. Libertarian Party of Virginia (1 Amicus)

We've seen the Libertarian Party fight for ballot access in a number of states recently, including battles in California, Michigan, and coming soon: Ohio, but in their battle with Virginia over petition gatherer requirements, they emerged clearly triumphant -- in summary judgment.

Virginia requires that a resident of the state witness the signatures on ballot access petitions, and though the LP has successfully gotten their presidential candidate on the ballot in the past, a professional signature gatherer argued that the extra time and resources required to haul around a local with him on signature drives impeded his speech.

Both the district court, in summary judgment, and the Fourth Circuit, agreed. Seven states have filed an amicus brief in favor of Virginia, arguing that residency requirements combat fraud.

Woollard v. Gallagher (6 Amici) (Set for Oct. 11 Conference)

Wait, a gun case with amici? Shocker, right?

Then again, this case could set the foundation for firearm possession laws nationwide, so it could be important. In the past year, the Seventh Circuit has ruled that the Right to Bear Arms extends outside of one's home, while the Second, Fourth (using intermediate scrutiny), and Tenth Circuit (using SCOTUS dicta from 1895), have decided the other way.

This case, should it be accepted, could determine the future of concealed carry nationwide.

Six amicus briefs have been filed so far including ones from the Cato Institute, Gun Owners Foundation et al., and the American Civil Rights Union.

Lane v. Holder (2 Amici) (Oct. 11 Conference)

This is a good one, which we've covered in detail, but the short version is this: federal regulations require transfer of firearms to occur through a licensed dealer. All of the dealers went out of business in D.C., and local residents couldn't legally go to Virginia or Maryland to procure arms.

The Fourth Circuit's odd holding was that Lane, herself, wasn't regulated -- the dealers were. She therefore had no standing because her harm couldn't be directly traced to the regulation.

Abramski v. United States (2 Amici) (Oct. 11 Conference)

We swear: the gun cases aren't on purpose -- we went by amici.

Nonetheless, this is another interesting gun case that we covered. Guy gets a police discount on guns, buys one with his uncle's money, then legally transfers it. He's then charged with (and pleads to) two felonies for being a straw purchaser, which the Fourth Circuit upheld.

Their overly-literal logic stands with that of the Sixth and Eighth circuits, while the Fifth Circuit focuses on the lawfulness of the true purchaser (straw purchases for felons = bad).

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