U.S.A. — On July 18th, 2023, Judge Roger T. Benitez heard statements from opposing attorneys on the former Rhode v Becerra, now Rhode v. Bonta lawsuit. There were no objections to combining the hearing on the preliminary injunction with the trial on the merits. This case was vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and sent back to Judge Benitez because of the Bruen decision at the Supreme Court.
The Rhodes v Bonta case deals with the Draconian restrictions which California enacted on the sale of ammunition within the state and on the importation of ammunition from other states into California. The law may be the most restrictive law dealing with the purchase of ammunition ever enacted in the United States. Judge Benitez knows he is in a hostile environment in the Ninth Circuit. Judge Benitez is being extremely careful and diligent in his approach. All sides know the case will be appealed to a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, whatever the outcome. From michaellawyers.com, Docket text of the July 18, 2023 hearing:
Docket Text: Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Roger T. Benitez: Preliminary Injunction Hearing held on 7/17/2023. No objections were heard as to combining the preliminary injunction hearing with a trial on the merits. Within 30 days of today, Plaintiffs shall file a declaration(s) regarding their Article III standing. Within 30 days of today, Defendant shall name and file an expert report(s) or declaration(s) regarding the American history and tradition of background checks. Within 15 days thereafter, Plaintiffs shall decide whether to depose said expert(s), and within 30 days after deciding, Plaintiffs shall file a brief or expert declaration(s) in response. Additionally, within 30 days of today, Defendant shall file an updated declaration regarding ammunition purchaser background check acceptance/rejection rates and processing times, as performed previously. Additionally, within 30 days of today, Defendant shall report to the extent ascertainable, on persons described in previous declarations as persons who underwent background checks and were identified as prohibited persons and indicate whether such persons were prosecuted and whether firearms were located and seized from such persons.(Court Reporter/ECR Juliet Eichenlaub). (Plaintiff Attorney Sean Brady, Konstadinas T. Morou). (Defendant Attorney Christina R. B. Lopez, John D. Echeverria). (no document attached) (gxr)
Judge Benitez also has upcoming cases under the guidance of the Bruen decision on the California magazine ban, the California “assault weapons” ban, and a California ban on “billy” clubs. Hawaii settled a lawsuit (in the Ninth Circuit) where the state essentially admitted a ban on billy clubs was unconstitutional. Judge Benitez originally held the “billy” club ban to be constitutional because of its age, under the old, discredited findings of the Ninth Circuit on how the Second Amendment was supposed to be interpreted. Under Caetano and Bruen, this correspondent expects the law to be found unconstitutional.
The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) has reported that at the hearing on July 18, Judge Benitez assured all parties he is working hard on all these cases. From the crpa.org:
Judge Benitez also assured everyone in court that he is hard at work on decisions in other Second Amendment cases pending before him, including CRPA’s Duncan case challenging the ban on magazines that can hold over 10 rounds, the challenge to the California “assault weapon” law, and a challenge to the state law banning possession of “billy” clubs. The Judge noted that his calendar has been especially busy,but also that he is taking the time to read, and will be addressing in his decisions, every bit of evidence and scholarship submitted in those cases. Considering the different rulings on these issues coming out from other federal courts in other states, we expect the decisions we eventually get will be the most thorough and comprehensive decisions yet issued by any court.
The CRPA is asking members to report instances where they have been refused the ability to purchase ammunition under the California ban as a response to the claim the organization does not have “standing” to contest the ban.
Judge Benitez’s published opinions on previous cases have been things of beauty in logic and reason. This has earned Judge Benitez the appellation of “Saint” Benitez in the eyes of Constitutionalists and Second Amendment supporters. Judge Benitez was born in Cuba. This may help explain his acute understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
The numerous cases generated under the Bruen decision are working their way through the courts. Bruen holds the promise of restoring Second Amendment rights which have been heavily infringed for more than a century. To restore the rights under the Second Amendment, the proper procedures must be followed, and the Supreme Courts decision made more clear and certain through careful and clear lower court opinions. Judge Benitez is doing his job.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.