False Hope

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Hughes Amendment, which prohibited new machine guns to be transferred to civilians in 1986, that argues it was never properly passed. Now there’s video. The problem you run into with this line of thinking is that the Supreme Court follows the Enrolled Bill Doctrine.

So whether or not procedures and rules were followed really doesn’t matter. Hughes was in the enrolled bill, and thus the courts recognize it as law. This is as much a waste of time and energy as tax protesters arguing the 16th Amendment was never properly ratified.

17 thoughts on “False Hope”

  1. You’re grasping the wrong end of the stick.

    True, we can’t use this in court. But it’s important to educate our fellow gun owners as to how this was brought about.

    More people being angry about this is a good thing.

  2. From what I understand, there may be a way for the House to make the claim that because of the procedural/rules violations they didn’t pass the same version of the bill as the Senate did. I’m not entirely sure I understand it correctly, but wouldn’t that invalidate at least the Hughes Amendment, if not – unfortunately – the whole FOPA?

  3. I don’t know of any mechanism that would make that work. The courts aren’t going to take notice of that anyway. If it requires Congress to act, that’s about the same hurdle as repealing the Hughes Amendment legislatively, so I don’t think that gets us anything.

  4. Still, this doesn’t obviate my argument. We have here a lump of monkey-poo.

    Let’s fling it at Hughes. More people associating the amendment with monkey-poo is a good thing.

  5. There is no way that the Hughes Ammendment will be negated by this, agreed.

    But to me the important thing that this may bring up is the fact that the legislators are not following their own rules. To me that is huge, if they cannot or willnot follow their own rules why should anyone else?

    I do not want to see bills passed this way regardless of what they are about.


  6. I’m not convinced the rules weren’t followed, based on some research I did into this. I’m not certain, which is why I didn’t post anything debunking it. But the rules are arcane. It’s very difficult for lay people to understand them. I don’t exempt myself from that. Every time I try to understand House or Senate rules, it makes my brain hurt.

  7. That’s wonderful, arcane rules that the layperson can’t understand. What better way to go ahead and just do whatever the F they want.

    The whole system needs to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out into the sun, where everybody can not just see it, but understand it.

    There’s no excuse for congress to be able to pull magic trick BS like this. They work for us, not the other way around.

  8. I agree. The reason the rules are arcane is because arcane rules tend to favor the people who understand them best. Traditionally that’s been the left.

    But at the same time, a lot of the rules are meant to protect minorities, and to enforce procedure, which is a good thing. Generally speaking, it’s going to be hard for a controversial bill to get passed in contra to the rules, because all someone has to do is raise a point of order.

  9. It’s just not possible to have a group of 415 people work without there being such rules, tho.

  10. I am not sure if this is at all analogous, but if a State chooses presidential electors in a manner that is suspect with regard to its own law/rules, do the courts have no duty to examine the internal process by which those electors were chosen, or does it have to assume the process was valid and judge the election based on the electors presented to them (even though it may turn the election)?
    Obviously, you recognize the situation I am describing.
    Are these situations related, or are elections treated differently than legislative and ratification issues? I really don’t know.

  11. My research on this is not thorough, I should say, except for the enrolled bill doctrine…. so let me just preface this with that.

    But my understanding is the Courts view that if a law has been enrolled, and passed by both houses in the same form, that satisfies the constitutional requirement, and anything beyond that is not within the judicial powers of the United States. Remember that the constitution grants Congress the power to set its own rules. Presumably that also grants congress the power to administer its own rules.

    Now, if the accusation is that a law was not actually passed by one of the bodies of congress, that would be a different matter, but it would also be uncharted territory, as far as I know.

  12. Democrats cheating legal process to get the results they want? I’m shocked! Shocked I tell you, and I’m sure the ranks of the Voting Dead are just as shocked.

  13. No way to get it in front of a judge – but MicroBalrog has a point; at the margin, you could probably gin up a Yea vote or two to repeal or neuter the Hughes Amendment by tossing out “this may have been passed illegitimately”.

  14. Do not underestimate the power of throwing stuff at a problem just to see if something sticks.

  15. Color me straight in the “MicroBalrog” camp.

    You’re right in that in no way is this a silver bullet against Hughes. Instead, I’d love to see it spread around in a “SEE HOW THIS SAUSAGE IS MADE?” kind of a way to maybe spur people to action against CURRENT attempts at infringement, like this idiotic “high capacity ammunition feeding devices” ban.

    I think Hughes will be overturned one day. Mostly because I believe all unjust laws eventually crumble. But this kind of thing, showing that our rights were Shanghai’d by a guy from Jersey and his buddy with a worn-out gavel might prevent some of these things from happening in the future, and might sway public opinion our way.

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