As we’ve talked about, cases change numbers and names as they travel through the system.
This is a history of the VanDerStok v. Garland cases as they have moved through the courts. If you make it too the end, it discusses where we are and what the tea leaves have been.
- Aug 11, 2022
- Complaint filed by Jennifer VanDerStok et al. challenging the ATF’s frame and receiver rule
- Aug 17, 2022
- Motion for injunction filed by Plaintiffs (Good Guys)
- Aug 18, 2022
- ATF moves to have the case transferred to a different court.
- Aug 29, 2022
- The court asks the parties to argue for or against shortening the case by combining the preliminary injunction phase with the merits phase.
- Sep 2, 2022
- The court grants a preliminary injunction in part. (good news)
- Sep 10, 2022
- The court declines to transfer the case
- Sep 16, 2022
- The court orders everybody to hurry up. They want expedited briefings
- Oct 1, 2022
- The court expands the scope of who is covered by the injunction. (good news)
- Oct 25, 2022
- The ATF filed the administrative record the day before, the Court now tells everybody that this is going to move fast and be prepared to argue the merits (no preliminary injunction hearings) 14 days after the Court says go.
- Nov 1, 2022
- The ATF lets the court know they are asking the Fifth Circuit to stop the preliminary injunction
- Nov 3, 2022
- The Court adds BlackHawk Manufacturing Group to the list of protected parties under the Preliminary Injunction
- Dec 23, 2022
- The plaintiffs (good guys) file a motion for Summary Judgement
- Feb 13, 2023
- The ATF files a cross motion for Summary Judgement
- Mar 6, 2023
- The Court grants Defense Distributed and Second Amendment Foundation coverage under the original preliminary injunction.
- Jun 27, 2023
- Fifth Circuit court has all briefings in hand and scheduled oral arguments for Sep, 2023
- Jul 5, 2023
- The court issues its final judgement. In that judgement, they find that the final rule violates ATF’s statutory jurisdiction and vacates the final rule.
- Jul 14, 2023
- The ATF asks for an Emergency Stay pending appeal
- The Fifth Circuit Court dockets a new case.
- July 18, 2023
- The Court grants a 7-day administrative stay
- Jul 25, 2023
- The Fifth Circuit calendars the case for Sep 7, 2023.
- The District court issues a stay pending appeal
- Jul 24, 2023
- The Fifth Circuit court stays the vacatur pending appeal
- Jul 27, 2023
- The ATF requests a stay from the Supreme court regarding the Preliminary Injunction and Final Judgement
- Aug 8, 2023
- The Supreme Court stays the vacatur of the Northern District Court of Texas. (bad news)
- Sep 6, 2023
- The Fifth Circuit Court dismisses the appeal because the ATF asked them in one case.
- Sep 7, 2023
- Oral argument heard before Judges Willett, Engelhardt, Oldham
- Sep 14, 2023
- The district court enjoins the ATF from enforcing their final rule
- Sep 25, 2023
- Oral arguments are scheduled for Sep 28, 2023
- Sep 28, 2023
- Oral arguments are heard
- Oct 2, 2023
- The Fifth Circuit Court vacates the injunction as to non-parties. (so-so news)
- Oct 5, 2023
- ATF applies to the Supreme Court to vacate the injunction pending appeal on the Emergency Docket
- Oct 6, 2023
- Justice Alito stays the injunction administratively for 10 days.
- Justice Alito orders all responses to be in place by Oct 11, 2023
- Oct 16, 2023
- The application is referred to the court
- The September 14, 2023, order of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, case No 4:22-cv-691, is vacated
Injunctions, Vacaturs, Stays and Judgements, Oh My!
An injunction is an order from the court to a particular person or persons to stop doing something. The state can be enjoined from enforcing a law. A company can be enjoined from shipping goods.
It is an order to stop. The three types of injunctions we normally see are Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), Preliminary Injunction and final Injunction. A TRO is normally limited to 14 days. It is designed to get to a hearing on a Preliminary Injunction. A Preliminary Injunction lasts until the final judgement. It is designed to hold things in a preferred state, as defined by the court, until a final judgement on the merits is given.
Injunctions are the most common type of relief sought by plaintiffs.
A “vacatur” is an order from the court declaring something null and void. As if it never was. When the N.D.TX vacated the ATF’s rule, it was as if that rule had never been. Therefore, every person who was affected by that rule was no longer threatened by that rule.
Having a rule or law vacated is a complete win at that level of the court system.
Superior courts can vacate inferior court’s injunctions and vacaturs. When the Supreme Court G\grants certiorari, vacates the judgement, and remands the case, they are declaring that the inferior court’s opinion is null and void. The inferior court is then required to do it over and issue a new judgement, following the directions of the Supreme Court.
A stay is an order from the court to stop something from happening temporarily. A court can stay themselves or an inferior court. Judge Benitez issued his final judgement in Duncan v. Bonta and then stayed his own order long enough for the state to seek an emergency stay from the Ninth Circuit Court.
We see the Circuit Courts issue stays frequently. Unfortunately, in Second Amendment Challenges, those stays are normally in favor of the state.
A final judgement is the court’s final word on something. That might mean they are issuing an injunction or vacating a regulation. The only thing that happens after the final judgement, at that level, is bookkeeping actions. Sentencing, in criminal cases, awarding of fees, and other administrative tasks.
At the next superior level, appeals can be made. If the superior court wishes, they can stay the inferior court, or they can vacate and remand, or they can vacate and issue their own judgement.
What the Heck Happened in VanDerStok
Many people are upset about the current situation. They are attempting to read the tea leaves of the Supreme Court.
From the history of the case, you can see that The People won the first round with a vacatur of the final rule. This was appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court by the state/ATF.
Wile this was going on, the Fifth Circuit was working on the appeal from the ATF.
The Supreme Court vacated the District court’s vacatur of the final rule, pending appeal
This is significant. The Supreme Court is telling the inferior courts to keep working the problem. They are not granting the relief sought by the plaintiffs (good guys), but they haven’t said that the opinion was wrong.
The Fifth Circuit is working the appeal and the District Court does what it was told to do. Since their vacatur was itself vacated, they need a do-over.
In that do-over, they used an injunction to stop the government instead of the vacatur. This was a compliant way to issue the same relief for The People while obeying the Supreme Court. It was also gamesmanship.
When the ATF got slapped down by the district court a second time, they ran crying to the Supreme Court, again. The Supreme Court did the same thing they did the first time around. They vacated the injunction pending appeal.
What this means is that it will be the ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court that determines the final judgement for VanDerStok. Not a district court.
I located around 10 different cases at three different federal court levels in this single “case”. There are at least three at the Fifth Circuit, there are two at the Supreme Court, and multiple cases at the District level.
The history presented above was produced by reading the dockets in multiple different cases and attempting to reconcile them. Sometimes the inferior cases are put on hold pending superior court results, sometimes the cases keep rolling along.
I do not think The People are really any worse off than we were before the Supreme Court vacated the injunction pending appeal. We still have multiple Second Amendment Cases working towards the Supreme Court. I expect good things from the Supreme Court over the next 6 months.