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.