More on the NRA Motion

Today Alan Gura filed an Opposition to NRA’s Motion for Divided Argument, as is reported by SCOTUSBlog. A few things to clarify from the previous post. NRA is asking for 10 minutes out of the 30 allotted to the Petitioners, not for half the time. But also keep in mind that the State Attorneys General have also filed a Motion for Divided Argument, asking for ten minutes themselves. It is exceedingly unlikely that the Court will grant two motions of this type, and also unlikely they will expand oral arguments.

I don’t think NRA filed this motion out of any foul intention, or with the idea in mind to throw a monkey wrench in anything. That said, while I understand and recognize the legitimacy of NRA’s likely concerns, I do not agree that filing this Motion for Divided Time was an appropriate outlet. Let me briefly explaining my reasoning.

  • The Motion itself is very unlikely to succeed. The Court typically only grants these types of motions under pretty limited circumstances, and after reading NRA’s Motion and the Petitioners opposition to the motion, I think that NRA is on shaky legal ground. The long odds on the success of the motion make its use as any kind of vehicle suspect.
  • Even if the Hail Mary tactic works, what does it really get you in relation to your core concern? So the National Rifle Association gets Clement 10 minutes of time before the Court. It’s not like Clement gets to make a ten minute speech on the merits of due process. He’ll pretty much be answering questions posed by the justices just like anyone else who would occupy that hot seat.
  • At this point in the case, Alan Gura really needs to be spending his time and energy responding to Chicago and all the briefs filed in support of the respondents. I don’t think spending time and energy writing oppositions to motions that he did not invite into his case is really the best use of his time.

Ultimately my concern is that this jeopardizes relationships that are going to be important for NRA going forward after McDonald, and without much to show for it when all is said and done. I might reconsider my opinion if the Court, against all odds, grants the motion (because of what that might hint at), but I don’t think that’s likely at this point. There’s been a lot of speculation about what the court was hinting at when it granted cert for McDonald and kept NRA on hold. You can see some of that here. On what strategy would be best for McDonald, I think reasonable people can disagree on, but the Supreme Court granted cert on this case. Our rights are now in Alan Gura’s hands, which I think are quite capable. I think NRA has already brought much to this case in terms of laying a strong political basis for gun rights, getting the right people elected who put the right people on the Court, and in terms of bringing resources to bear to aid Heller and McDonald. These are commendable and worthwhile contributions. I don’t think this Motion for Divided Time fits within that, and seems to me to be not be very well thought out.

11 thoughts on “More on the NRA Motion”

  1. Ultimately my concern is that this jeopardizes relationships that are going to be important for NRA going forward after McDonald…

    Yeah, I’d say so. Might give people a reason to remember NRA effectively tried both a hostile takeover at a lower court of what became Heller (by trying to merge it with their own case brought for that sole purpose), as well as trying to moot it (by trying for congressional repeal, which I’d have backed at any other time, but the timing and urgency was blatantly a vote of no confidence in Gura).

    Sebastian’s generally made a good case for backing the 800 pound gorilla, the largest, broadest and most powerful group in the gun rights struggle. But this calls into question at least their strategic understanding, and possibly even the leadership’s good faith. Why not leave this to the team with the most expertise, which also most directly bore the burden of getting here? NRA has to be in charge so much it can’t tolerate a division of labor and doesn’t trust the movement to try a raft of concurrent strategies?

  2. They had good reasons for opposing Heller (then Parker) at first. Far better than for this. And in truth, NRA did a lot to help bring Heller to a victory. I wasn’t kidding about not discounting NRA’s contribution to the court cases.

    That said, I think it’s completely legitimate to question the judgement involved in filing this motion. I just wouldn’t attribute it to bad faith. Ultimately, I believe they are doing what they think is right for the Second Amendment, same as in their initial opposition to Parker… it’s just that in this case, I don’t think what they think is the right thing is actually the right thing.

    Dance with the 800lb gorilla, he’s going to step on your toes sometimes. He is not always the most graceful animal.

  3. Between this, the Parker case, and what they did to us in Colorado, I will never be a member and will tell my friends their money is better spent elswhere. The NRA seems to be going the way of the GOP, power in Washington is what they crave.

  4. I suspect that the NRA “brass” are simply following the advice of their paid legal staff. And based on experience, it’s not above the legal beagles of a large institution to “lobby” for more work for themselves – that’s just human nature. I doubt this reflects anything adverse with respect to the leadership’s good faith toward the membership. I’m hoping organization insiders can provide a better assessment.

  5. One thing I don’t think the NRA considered when filing this motion was that they gave the anti-gunners information they may not have previously had, namely that the pro-gun “coalition” isn’t as tight as they antis may have thought. The filing of the motion, and Gura’s subsequent opposition, could be construed by many as a either the NRA wanting to have more control, Gura wanting to keep the NRA away from what he sees as his show, or a general bickering between the two parties. Any way it’s perceived, it makes the pro-gun groups as a whole look less cohesive, i.e. weak.

    My personal opinion? Gura has done good work so far, let him do his job.

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