In light of this weekâ€™s ruling from the Seventh Circuit, and the scramble to get the Chicago gun ban case to the Supreme Court, Iâ€™ve decided to step up and make a donation to the NRA Civil Rights Defend Fund. I have noted before that the CRDF is consistently under funded and the legal battles we must fight post-Heller are extremely expensive.
Though the CRDF will be focusing its funding on NRA v. Chicago in coming months, it also has to maintain the usual caseload of non-SCOTUS bound cases and fund research to keep Second Amendment scholarship on track.
While NRA was derided by many for not jumping on board with the Heller case at first (hindsight is always 20/20), the CRDF was responsible for bringing in the scholars, lawyers, and others who contributed to moot court sessions, and not to mention the decades of research funded by CRDF that gave us the legal footing to make some of the arguments. Heller could not have happened if it werenâ€™t for the investment that NRAâ€™s CRDF made in Second Amendment scholarship for decades before the case was ever filed.
Beyond the big cases, CRDF is also available to help the little guy if the case is likely to set precedent. (Being under funded means not every case can get the full funding it may deserve.) Some of the cases you may recall include the student in Virginia who was targeted by school officials and threatened with punishment for wearing a shooting sports shirt to his public school. In New Jersey, CRDF has lent financial assistance to the case against one-gun-a-month in Jersey City which has been defeated in the lower courts and now awaits a decision by the state Supreme Court. In California, it was the CRDF who stepped up to fund the case against San Franciscoâ€™s ballot-approved handgun ban.
When they arenâ€™t providing direct funding with cases, often those involved in the Defense Fundâ€™s network of lawyers and academics use their connections to organize on behalf of cases. Organizing all of the amici curiae for Heller was no small feat. Nearly four dozen briefs were filed in the support of Dick Heller, many of those briefs were organized to focus on a specific argument so that every topic could be covered. There was no room to be broadsided by an unexpected argument. More than 125 female state lawmakers were rounded up to sign onto a single brief. History was made when NRA worked with Congress to get more Senators and Representatives on board with one brief than ever before in the history of our country. More than 30 states were organized to submit a brief declaring their support for an individual rights interpretation. This kind of work takes serious resources. Whether you always agree with NRAâ€™s political work or not, there is something that CRDF has either aided with funds or organizing efforts that you can support.
The CRDF supports cases for individual gun owners, FFLs, and other Second Amendment supporters. It is impossible to overstate the support Defense Fund provides for protecting the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, their work is only limited by the funds they receive. As we barrel down a likely path toward the Supreme Court again in such a short time, it is time that we make sure they have all of the resources available to fight for incorporation.
I would also add that if you are an attorney who would like to contribute your legal services to any of the cases or get the CRDF on your firm’s pro bono radar, please contact them. Other lawyers have found that firms are surprisingly receptive to adding a bit of diversity to their pro bono programs.
3 thoughts on “Stepping Up: Civil Rights Defense Fund”
I’m surprised I haven’t seen that link more often.
Sent $100 (tax-deductible too!)
I wish I had $100 to send too, but I’ll blog it. This is a bit of an example of hiding it’s light under a bushel.
Thanks for your support of this most worthwhile effort….it truly does make a difference.
NRA Board Member
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