Sent to us by the author.
It is normal, in any criminal proceeding, for the Defense Attorney to file a Motion to Dismiss. Most often, these are simple appeals about nothing of significance, though they do add chargeable hours.
In K. C. Massey’s case, however, we find a “Motion to Dismiss Indictment“, with merit. Perhaps not in a legal sense, but in a truly lawful sense – The difference that is anything can be enacted (legal), though unless it is firmly based upon the powers and authorities granted in the Constitution, it may be unlawful.
Massey’s attorney, Louis S. Sorola, begins by explaining the Texas law (Texas Penal Code, §46.04) which allows Massey to possess a firearm, for his own protection. This and other aspects that will be addressed here are dealt with in detail at Liberty or Laws? “Felon in Possession of a Firearm” is Not Legal or Lawful.
He supports this by reference to, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, in reference to the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in “District of Columbia v. Heller” (554 US 570), where the Court held that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to keep firearms at their homes for their self-protection. This decision is consistent with the Texas law that allows such possession five years after completion of a sentence as a result of a felony. However, the federal statute that Massey is charged with presumes a lifetime prohibition, if incorrectly interpreted (see Commerce Clause, below).
He further argues that the term “people”, as used in the Second Amendment is also used in the 1st, 4th, and 9th Amendments, and in none of those is there an exception that would allow rights to be taken away. The only notable legal exception is in the Supreme Court decision found in “Sampson v. California” (547 US 843), which allows a different criteria if one is a prisoner or a parolee. It does not extend beyond that period of time when the person is in custody, or is under conditions of parole, in which he can be searched outside of constitutional constraints.
The question as to what extent the Commerce Clause (Article I, §8, cl. 3, Constitution) grants authority to the federal government is raised. Heller addressed the Second Amendment, but did not address the Commerce Clause, however another decision, “United Sates v. Lopez” (514 US 549) addressed the Commerce Clause, but did not address the Second Amendment. In Lopez, the extent of the Commerce Clause did not grant blanket jurisdiction, which resulted in the overturning of the federal Gun-Free School Zone law. If the ruling in Lopez was applied to Massey’s case, it would necessarily require a “substantial effect on Interstate Commerce.
As Sorola argues, “[t]he interstate commerce began and ended with the Federal Firearm License dealers involved. After the importation into Texas the guns are under Texas jurisdiction. Thus the laws of Texas apply, not the federal government.”
Equal Protection Clause
What is meant by Equal Protection was best defined by the Supreme Court in their ruling in “Yick Wo v. Hopkins” (118 US 356 – 1886):[E]qual protection and security should be given to all under like circumstances in the enjoyment of their personal and civil rights;… that no impediment should be interposed to the pursuits of any one, except as applied to the same pursuits by others under like circumstances; that no greater burdens should be laid upon one than are laid upon others in the same calling and condition; and that, in the administration of criminal justice, no different or higher punishment should be imposed upon one than such as is prescribed to all for like offenses.
Now, it must be understood that the Equal Protection requirement is federal, not to be confused with state laws. Otherwise, all state laws would be equal, but, they are not — they are enacted in accordance with the State’s constitution. (See Which Constitution Am I Protected By?) Where it does apply is in the application of federal laws, as described in Yick Wo.
If different states have different laws as to what a felony is and how much time is served, is it equal protection if one state might consider it third degree and have a light sentence while another state might hold a higher penalty and mandatory 1 year (federal criteria) in prison? The federal government has not even attempted to establish a uniform criteria for the applicability of 18 USC §922(g)(1) – the charge against Massey). This lends support to the Commerce Clause limitation, above, where the law would only apply to Interstate Commerce, not to the right of the people, in general.
In a Circuit Court decision, the court decided that, in enacting the statute, “Congress superimposed a patchwork of state law over a broad piece of federal legislation in a manner bound to produce anomalous results.” (McGrath v. United States, 60 F.3d 1005)
Perhaps what is most important about this Motion to Dismiss is the fact that it is, without a doubt, a challenge to federal jurisdiction, a preservation of State’s Rights, and the rights of the People.