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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Cam Edwards: The ATF’s “frame and receiver” rule is on life support and living on borrowed time

Cam Edwards had a piece at yesterday on the Fifth Circuit's three judge panel ruling on DOJ's request to vacate the district court’s previous injunction related to ATF’s rule treating unfinished frames and receivers as firearms.   

In a decision released on Monday, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the government’s request to vacate the district court’s injunction in its entirety, but did “agree with the Government that the district court’s injunction sweeps too broadly.” As a result, the Fifth Circuit panel concluded that non-parties to the lawsuits filed by Tactical Machining, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Second Amendment Foundation, JSD Supply, Polymer 80, and several individual plaintiffs are once again subject to the ATF rule, while those named parties are still protected by the district court injunction.

That’s not great news for the DOJ, but it’s the sole bright spot for anti-gunners in an opinion that casts major doubt about the viability of the “frame and receiver” rule once the Fifth Circuit has a chance to weigh on whether the policy is an abuse of executive branch authority. The panel held that “Injunctions that afford relief to non-parties are potentially problematic,” but even there the Fifth Circuit says its decision is subject to further review based on the government’s actions going forward.

Cam went through the decision and concludes that while DOJ did get a little good news from the decision, it is also a warning that it is likely to be the only good news related to the rule that DOJ should expect.

If there was any doubt as to where the Fifth Circuit panel stands, it was removed by the judges’ conclusion.

At the end of the day, we think four things are paramount. First, inferior federal courts must exhibit unflinching obedience to the Supreme Court’s orders. Second, the Court has directed us to be skeptical (if not altogether unwilling) to order universal relief that extends to non-parties. Third, insofar as possible, we should have orderly judicial review in which the status quo is maintained, and the legal rules sorted, without asking courts to make monumental decisions in short-fuse emergency dockets. Fourth and finally, courts should be able to review ATF’s 98-page rule, and the decades of precedent it attempts to change, without the Government putting people in jail or shutting down businesses.

Check out Cam's entire article linked above.

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