Federal District Court Judge Karen M. Williams decided today to consolidate two high-profile 2nd Amendment cases brought against New Jersey. The two cases involve the newly enacted “carry killer” law, which was passed in response to the Supreme Court Bruen decision.
Siegel v. Platkin(the ANJRPC case) and Koons v. Reynolds(the FPC/CNJFO case) were consolidated into one case that will be heard by the Honorable Renee Marie Bumb, who is already presiding over the Koons v. Reynolds case.
Both cases were filed late last year within minutes of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signing the new carry-killer legislation into law. The Koons v. Reynolds suit challenges a very narrow part of the new bill, namely the broadest and most sweeping areas on the list of restricted sensitive areas (seeking immediate relief for plaintiffs). The Siegel v. Platkin suit addresses the broader unconstitutional implications and interpretations that were contrary to the “text, history, and tradition” teaching in the Bruen decision. The suit also focuses on elements of the new law that undermine the First, Fourth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Earlier this week, in the Koons v. Reynolds suit, after objectively reviewing the evidence and arguments heard the week before, Judge Bumb issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on five of the twenty-five “sensitive places” restrictions of the new law regarding where lawful concealed firearms may be carried. The TRO suspended enforcement of the broadest and most obvious unconstitutional provisions of the law thereby giving citizens the relief they sought, at least temporarily.
Judge Williams was to hear arguments in Siegel v. Platkin this past Monday, the same day Judge Bumb issued the TRO. In light of the issuance of the TRO in the Koons case, Judge Williams opted to postpone the hearing in the Siegel case until today. She instructed both the plaintiffs and defendants to submit their responses to the court and to take into account the TRO issued in Koons and recent developments in the Range v. Attorney General case.
The State had argued, numerous times, that the two cases should be merged together. However, the State wanted the cases consolidated into Judge Williams court. The rationale was that since Judge Williams was appointed by President Joe Biden and Judge Bumb was appointed by President George W. Bush, that the Biden-appointed judge would be the more favorable, safer bet.
One of the state’s arguments for consolidation of the cases was that it would save taxpayer money, resources, and time. Ironically, the State was warned countless times by citizens giving testimony opposing the new law during several Assembly and Senate hearings and a flood of e-mails from thousands of constituents. They argued the law would be challenged and the State, and ultimately the taxpayer, would bear the cost of litigation. They further objected to their tax dollars being spent to defend a bill that was obviously unconstitutional on its face – an argument that is proving to be accurate. Furthermore, it seems the legislature was so focused on doing Governor Murphy’s bidding, that it decided to fully ignore both the Bruen decision and the U.S. Constitution as a whole.
According to Second Amendment proponent, Kurt Lundy, who was present at the hearing, the Biden-appointed judge seemed genuinely concerned with getting things right, rather than pushing a party-driven agenda. In fact, in response to arguments by both plaintiffs and defendants, the judge stated that neither party had any idea how she might rule in a firearm-related, 2nd Amendment, case. Admittedly, she had never ruled on one before.
Ultimately, due to the thorough work of Judge Bumb, and convincing argument of ANJRPC attorney, Dan Schmutter, Judge Williams decided that the best course of action would be to consolidate both cases under Judge Bumb.
As soon as we know if/when Judge Bumb will schedule a hearing for a TRO regarding the issues challenged by the ANJRPC lawsuit, we will provide an update.