Hamilton v. Pallozzi

On May 16, Maryland filed its Appellee’s Brief in Hamilton v. Pallozzi. Maryland devotes a few sentences of its brief, as well as an extended footnote, to addressing the full faith and credit argument we raised in our amicus brief.  

Click here to read the Gun Owners Foundation brief.

We argued that by failing to give full faith and credit to the judicial decision of a Virginia court which restored the Appellant’s firearms rights, Maryland had violated his Second Amendment rights.

Here is how Maryland argued against our position.

First, Maryland tried misdirection.  It set out a quotation from the Supreme Court to the effect that one state is not required to follow the statutes of other states.  Of course, as we argued in our brief, it is the Virginia judicial decision — not the Virginia statute — which Maryland is required to recognize, and the Supreme Court has made abundantly clear that judicial proceedings get the strongest full faith and credit protection.

Second, Maryland argues that the Virginia court’s decision went further than Virginia statute allows.  Maryland points to the Virginia code section which authorizes a district court to “grant a permit,” arguing that the Virginia court went too far by restoring Hamilton’s firearms rights.  Of course, it is the court decision — not the Virginia statute — which deserves full faith and credit.  In asking the Maryland court to look behind the Virginia court decision, Maryland does exactly what the Full Faith and Credit Clause prohibits in reopening cases and relitigating matters that have already been decided by the court of another state.

Finally, Maryland argues that the Full Faith and Credit Clause does not create a federal cause of action to enforce it.  Ironically, as authority for its argument, Maryland cites none other than Alan Gura’s Opposition to our amicus brief.  Of course, Gura did not understand our brief, which made very clear that the claim was for a Second Amendment violation, not a full faith and credit violation. Our brief explained that the Second Amendment was violated because Maryland failed to properly give full faith and credit. 

Since now both sides have argued against our amicus brief, we hope this is enough to bring the issue front and center before the Court of Appeals.