Seth Connell writes that what was once one of the most renowned and well-respected legal institutions in all of the United States is quickly becoming another entity plagued by Left-wing ideology superseding the Constitution and the rule of law. The ABA’s gun control platform has been entrenched in the institution for decades, but they are only becoming more emboldened with new ideas to undermine our fundamental rights.
First, it was letting illegal aliens practice law; now, it’s openly advocating for gun confiscation from a person who poses a “serious threat to himself or herself or others,” but without full respect to due process of law for the accused.
This is despite the fact that the ABA has, for years, defended the rights of those whom many in our society wished to deny due process of law. The ABA defended due process rights for enemy combatants, for inmates on death row, and terrorism suspects. But when the defendant is a law-abiding American citizens who owns a firearm, the ABA is more than happy to subvert that very due process of law for which they have advocated previously.
The due process clause is the only provision in the Constitution that is commanded twice, as noted by Cornell Law School. Both the 5th and 14th Amendments prohibit the government from depriving anyone of “life, liberty or property without due process of law.” The 5th Amendment is binding upon the federal government, 14th is binding upon the states.
But the ABA has other ideas, as reported by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
At the 2017 ABA Annual Meeting, held August 10-13, the ABA House of Delegates adopted Resolution 118B, which “urges state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to enact statutes, rules, or regulations authorizing courts to issue gun violence restraining orders.” Gun violence restraining orders force a gun owner to surrender their firearms to law enforcement, or authorize law enforcement to seize said firearms, absent a disqualifying criminal conviction. NRA has opposed such legislation where introduced because such orders diminish the due process afforded an individual before they are stripped of their Second Amendment rights, and because of these orders’ obvious potential for abuse.
Under the resolution, governments are encouraged to implement legislation to allow for confiscation even after ex parte orders, which are orders that can be issued without the target of the restraining order present to provide evidence in their own defense.
The revised resolution has three parts:
1. That a person (a “petitioner”) with documented evidence that another person (a “respondent”) poses a serious threat to himself or herself or others may petition a court for an order temporarily suspending the respondent’s possession of a firearm or ammunition;
2. That there shall be a verifiable procedure to ensure the surrender of firearms and ammunition pursuant to the court order; and
3. That the issuance of the gun violence restraining order shall be reported to appropriate state or federal databases in order to prevent respondent from passing a background check required to purchase a firearm or obtain a firearm license or permit while [the] restraining order is in effect.
The entire problem with this kind of legislative proposal is that the defendant is left to fend for himself, and is offered no legal protection whatsoever in the proposal; the due process clauses of the 5th and 14th Amendments are simply left out of the equation.
This exact sort of gun confiscation law has already been signed in the state of Oregon. As I wrote July regarding the bill, such deprivations of due process of law are unacceptable in a free society. That bill has since been signed into law.
This bill would effectively eliminate due process because a person would (1) not be able to stand before the court during the hearing, and (2) would lose their rights before having any chance to plead their case.
Due process of law works by granting to the accused the right of innocence until being proven guilty, and the right to make their case to a court before losing their rights. But this bill completely flips that ancient and fundamental tenet of law and sentences a person before they even know that they are accused of something.
The good news is that the proposal did have some pushback, even from the Law Student Division. Nonetheless, the legitimate concerns raised over this kind of license to violate due process were dismissed.
Estelle Rogers, an executive committee member of the ABA’s woefully misnamed Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, referred to this diminution of due process and Second Amendment rights as “a modest common-sense reform.” Ms. Rogers would do well for herself and the profession to review the case law regarding the numerous abuses of constitutional rights taken under the banner of “modest” and “common-sense” reforms.
The ABA is strongly opposed to our fundamental right of self-defense, and they will advocate for anything that shrinks the scope of our 2nd Amendment rights. As the Left becomes more and more emboldened with time, our defense of our rights must be met with equal or greater zeal and vigor. For if we falter and lose our fundamental rights, there is almost certainly no recovery.