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Judge Holding Back on Decision, Wants to Hear From Saint Benitez

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An image of Judge Roger Benitez
Judge Roger "Saint" Benitez

There are several semi-auto, so-called “assault weapons” ban challenges going on all over the country. Eyes seem to be glued on Judge “Saint” Roger Benitez, and the opinion he’s going to roll out covering a number of cases any day now. One of the cases, Miller v. Bonta, was remanded back down to him, after last year’s NYSRPA v. Bruen decision. Benitez’s ruling, while only going to be binding in his jurisdiction, will have an effect on other cases. One judge, also within the 9th Circuit, noted recently that they’re not inclined to decide on granting any type of stay or injunction against a Hawaii ban until Benitez rolls out his decision in the Miller and Duncan cases.

The new opinion that Benitez is going to write is not liable to shock anyone. It’ll be poetic literature to Second Amendment supporters, sure. Benitez, in his first opinion on the topic, formerly referred to the banned weapons, “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” The work that Benitez has cut out for him really is not as monumental, other than ensuring NYSRPA v. Bruen is adhered to a t. A so-called text, history, and tradition lens is one that Benitez could be described as having used in the past, and under NYSRPA v. Bruen, being asked to write about the lack of historical analogues on the topic is not going to be a large order.

The case out of Hawaii that’s stalled at the moment, is National Association for Gun Rights v. Lopez. That case challenges Hawaii’s banning of something they’ve asserted is an assault weapon. A hearing occurred not too long ago, with the plaintiffs seeking a preliminary injunction. Since the April 7th argument, Judge Derrick K Watson delivered the following order on April 24, 2023:

EO: Having reviewed the parties’ supplemental notices of cases/authority, Dkt. Nos. 63-66, as requested by Plaintiffs–the moving parties here–the Court elects to STAY Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction (Dkt. No.24 ) pending a decision or decisions in Miller v. Bonta , 3:19-cv-01537 (S.D. Cal.) and Duncan v. Bonta , 3:17-cv-01017 (S.D. Cal.). See 4/7/23 Hrg. Tr. at 11:16-17 (counsel for Plaintiffs “urg[ing]” the Court to wait on decisions in the above-cited cases), Dkt. No. 62. Within seven (7) days of a decision or decisions in the above-cited cases, Plaintiffs are instructed to file in this case a notice of the same and a copy of the pertinent decision. IT IS SO ORDERED. (CHIEF JUDGE DERRICK K. WATSON) (tyk)

We can be assured that the attorney representing Hawaii’s interests in that case, an Everytown paid shill, is not too thrilled by that order. Further interesting facets to this situation are comments that Dudley Brown, the President of the National Association for Gun Rights, made to me – in a near Babe Ruth fashion – when we chatted about the case a couple of weeks ago.

“The federal judge asked which cases had already done a deep dive on the assault weapon and magazine ban issues, to which NAGR attorney Barry Arrington replied that the Benitez California ruling was due any day now, which would surely be a comprehensive ruling. That panicked the Everytown attorney – everyone knows Benitez is almost surely going to eviscerate gun-banners’ arguments.” – Dudley Brown on NAGR v. Lopez

With all eyes fixed on Saint Benitez, Second Amendment advocates are patiently waiting for his new opinion on the topic. On a personal level, I wonder if Benitez and other judges are holding out to deliver opinions on big cases all at once as a giant “F U” to the anti-civil rights groups. I say that as I’m not-so-patiently waiting on hearing about a preliminary injunction from Federal challenges on NJ’s “carry-killer” law from Judge Bumb. It’s time to release the kraken!

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