New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal tried to avoid the jurisdiction of Texas courts over his attempt to punish free speech. Grewal had sent a cease and desist letter to Defense Distributed warning them not to violate New Jersey law. Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation sued Grewal in US District Court for the Western District of Texas asserting he violated DD’s First and Second Amendment rights and asked for an injunction. While the US District Court agreed with Grewal in dismissing the lawsuit, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals did not and said he was subject to the jurisdiction of the Texas court.
Today, the US Supreme Court denied Grewal’s writ of certiorari and essentially agreed with the 5th Circuit that he was subject to the jurisdiction of the Texas court for his actions.
The 5th Circuit summarized nicely the complaint of Defense Distributed and the SAF in the case.
Just before the Attorneys General sued in Washington, Defense Distributed and SAF brought the instant action
in the Western District of Texas challenging select enforcement actions taken by the state Attorneys General.
Of relevance to this appeal, plaintiffs alleged these actions by Grewal: (1) sending a cease-and-desist letter
threatening legal action if Defense Distributed published its files; (2) sending letters to third-party internet service
providers based in California urging them to terminate their contracts with Defense Distributed; (3) initiating a
civil lawsuit against Defense Distributed in New Jersey; and (4) threatening Defense Distributed with criminal
sanctions at a live press conference. Further, these actions, coupled with the injunctive orders issued in the
Washington litigation, have caused Defense Distributed to cease publication of its materials. The plaintiffs asserted,
inter alia, that these actions infringed the exercise of their First Amendment freedoms and constituted tortious
interference with the State Department’s settlement agreement.
As you might expect, the Second Amendment Foundation was quite pleased with this result.
BELLEVUE, WA – The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition for certiorari from New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in his effort to escape the jurisdiction of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the ongoing First Amendment case brought by Defense Distributed and the Second Amendment Foundation.
The Fifth Circuit had ruled unanimously that Grewal, because of his efforts to prevent distribution of materials related to the 3D printing of firearms, was subject to the jurisdiction of the Texas courts. Defense Distributed is headquartered in Texas.
“It’s not every day you beat a state attorney general at the Supreme Court,” observed SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “especially when he had been supported by other anti-gun state attorneys general from New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, and the District of Columbia. This is a huge victory.”
The Defense Distributed case has always been about the First Amendment, Gottlieb observed. He recalled how Grewal had moved to dismiss the SAF/Defense Distributed lawsuit filed in the Western District of Texas “for lack of personal jurisdiction.” But the Fifth Circuit appellate ruling placed Grewal’s efforts squarely under that circuit’s jurisdiction and the SCOTUS allowed that to stand.
“Anti-gun attorneys general need to be held accountable for threatening gun owners and the firearms industry,” Gottlieb stated, “and that includes efforts to prevent distribution of information relating to 3D printing. Grewal tried to enjoin national distribution of Defense Distributed’s files on the Internet.
“This is one of several cases against the State of New Jersey and Grewal in which SAF is involved,” he continued. “We’re also suing the state, with several other parties, over the state’s capricious carry laws and gun purchase permitting process.”
The next move in the SAF-Defense Distributed case is their injunction request at the Federal District court, where plaintiffs will pursue their injunction request.
With anti-gun state attorneys general trying to impose their will outside the confines of their own state on the firearms industry, I think this ruling will be helpful in fighting back against them.