About johnbryanlaw

John H. Bryan is a West Virginia criminal defense and civil rights attorney practicing out of Union, and Lewisburg, West Virginia. For more information, visit his website at www.johnbryanlaw.com.

Rittenhouse Shootings Analyzed

The Rittenhouse shootings were the next logical step of violent riots, combined with government leaders who allow them to occur. What happens when the right to riot collides with the natural rights or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Or more specifically, the right to life, i.e., the right to self defense? It may be a new normal in 2020, but we build courthouses for a reason: to sort out the facts, and apply the law. The difficult part is to ensure a fair trial without the media poisoning the potential jury pool with misinformation, and misnomers, such as “armed vigilante,” “assault rifle,” “peaceful protestors,” and so on, and to let the true facts fall where they may. In the end, our Founders demanded, and ensured, that we have the right to a jury of our peers for a very good reason. That’s the only thing standing in between an individual in this position, and a lifetime of being locked away in a cage.

The facts can be sorted out. There are multiple videos of the incident. There will be many pictures and screenshots, and slow motion, or frame by frame versions of the incidents. Easier to determine is, what sort of laws will be applied here?

Possession of Firearms in Wisconsin and Illinois:

Wisconsin firearms law provides for open carry of loaded rifles and pistols for those 18 and older not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.  Unless Rittenhouse’s age has been incorrectly reported he would be in violation of these statutes. Similar statutes exist in Illinois.
Further, in Wisconsin and Illinois, providing an underaged individual with a firearm is a felony. It seems safe to assume that Rittenhouse’s enthusiasm for firearms was supported at least in some measure by his legal guardians. If they knowingly lent him use of the AR he carried in Kenosha they may face charges under these statutes.

Transportation of Firearms between Wisconsin and Illinois:

Federal law pre-empts the prosecution of illegal transportation via 18 U.S.C. §?926A which provides:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.”


Any number of state statutes in Wisconsin or Illinois may govern the illegal importation or exportation of firearms where the “peaceable journey” exemption of 18 U.S.C. § 926A does not preempt. Rittenhouse is in jeopardy here if his age is reported correctly as he is not legally able to possess the AR platform he possessed in Kenosha in either Wisconsin or Illinois.

Self Defense:

In general, and Wisconsin is no exception, a “self-defence” defence to homicide (i.e. “justifiable homicide” or “excusable homicide”) or the use of deadly or potentially force requires several elements. Those claiming self defence must:

1. Have the reasonable belief that…
2. …they or another person…
3. …are in imminent…
4. …danger of death or great bodily harm, and…
5. …that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent said harm.

Key elements of the defence to hone in on are:


Reasonability. Would a reasonable person fear for your life under the circumstances presented?


Imminent. Is the threatened death or great bodily harm about to occur that moment, or at some other time? It has to be literally about to occur.

Wisconsin incorporates these elements in its excusable homicide statute thus:


“A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person. The actor may intentionally use only such force or threat thereof as the actor reasonably believes is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. The actor may not intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.” (Wisconsin Updated Statutes 2019 § 939.48(1))


Further, many jurisdictions do not permit defendants to use self-defense as an argument if deadly force was used in a confrontation the defendant him or herself precipitated. Wisconsin is one such jurisdiction, terming the restriction “Provocation” providing:


A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defence against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defence, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.

The privilege lost by provocation may be regained if the actor in good faith withdraws from the fight and gives adequate notice thereof to his or her assailant.

A person who provokes an attack, whether by lawful or unlawful conduct, with intent to use such an attack as an excuse to cause death or great bodily harm to his or her assailant is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defence.” (Wisconsin Updated Statutes 2019 § 939.48(2))

Use of Deadly Force By Rittenhouse

Was there a reasonable belief of imminent death or great bodily harm?

Did Rittenhouse provoke the aggressors? In both episodes, Rittenhouse appears to be attempting to retreat. In the first, he is shown on video being chased, and having something thrown at him. In the second episode, they are clearly chasing him, and attacking him. One attacker had a skateboard, and another had a pistol. Moreover, he appears to be using every effort at escaping, i.e., exhausting his reasonable means to escape, in the second episode.

What about the illegal possession of a firearm? That remains to be seen. Self-defense should still apply, whether or not it utilizes an illegally possessed firearm, which is not a requirement of the basic self-defense analysis. Then again, I’m not a Wisconsin lawyer, so…….

Where is “State of Emergency” in the Constitution

(Update: Life under the new normal of “State of Emergency” government. Why it’s unconstitutional, unAmerican, and the danger ahead. Freedom is Scary, Episode 7. Recorded live on August 19, 2020. Skip ahead to different topics: Discussion about the constitutionality of our “State of Emergency” at about 3:00. Discussion about scientists’ concerns about children wearing masks at 20:15. Discussion about the Franklin Templeton-Gallup Research Project showing an insane level of misinformation about the threat posed by COVID-19 and the economic consequences at 25:15. Really interesting discussion with my brother’s longtime girlfriend, Diana, at around 39:00 discussing life in communist Romania, where she was born and her family still lives, and the similarities to the new normal of 2020 United States. Discussion about wearing masks in public at 1:09:50. Discussion regarding WV School Reopening and the Rainbow Code at 1:11:08. Discussion on suppression of school choice and freedom by governors at 1:25:45. The CDC Director’s opinion about kids and reopening schools at 1:33:45. Separation of powers violations by the governors at 1:41:20. Discussion on the Nanny State and JFK, Democrats, and third world economies here in WV at 1:48:00.)

On March 16, 2020, Gov. Justice declared a “State of Emergency” under W. Va. Code § 15-5-6. In the proclamation, the Governor provided the following substantiation for his declaration of a “State of Emergency”: The COVID-19 epidemic constitutes a disaster under W. Va. Code § 15-5-2; COVID-19 has been deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization and the President of the United States has declared a national emergency; It is in the best interest of the citizens of West Virginia that we are able to stand up emergency operation centers and allow boards and agencies to suspend certain rules that inhibit them from responding effectively. At that time there hadn’t even been one positive diagnosis in the State.

Fast forward to August 19 – over five (5) months later – and every county in the State of West Virginia is still being ruled by executive fiat, by one man, in what has become an indefinite “State of Emergency” style of government, which so far has lasted 5 months. And there appears to be no end in sight.

So where in the Governor’s proclamation did he mention his constitutional powers, and where in our State Constitution does the phrase “State of Emergency” appear? Moreover, where does the Constitution describe how the Governor gets to become a de-facto dictator, so long as he alleges a disaster zone exists? Even in counties which still after 5 months have had zero deaths from COVID-19, but numerous deaths from all the usual leading causes of death (mostly heart disease)?

Did you know that the legislature is not allowed to delegate their legislative responsibilities to the Governor? So even if an emergency powers statute attempted to do so (which it doesn’t), it would be unconstitutional.

Link to the text of the WV Constitution: https://www.wvlegislature.gov/WVCODE/…https://thecivilrightslawyer.com/

The Freedom is Scary Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FreedomIsScary Make sure to join the private group there to help fight for liberty.SHOW LESS

DOCUMENTS discussed in the Livecast:

Masks Don’t Work: Opposing Science

Franklin Templeton-Gallup Research Project by Dr. Sonal Desai, Ph.D.

1. Americans still misperceive the risks of death from COVID-19 for different age cohorts—to a shocking extent;
2. The misperception is greater for those who identify as Democrats, and for those who rely more on social media for information; partisanship and misinformation, to misquote Thomas Dolby, are blinding us from science; and
3. We find a sizable “safety premium” that could become a significant driver of inflation as the recovery gets underway.

Why Democrats Have Started To Cave On Reopening Schools, The Federalist, by Joy Pullman.

If Teachers Unions Really Cared About Kids, They’d Be Demanding Schools Open, The Federalist, by Paula Rinehart.

CDC Director: Threat Of Suicide, Drugs, Flu To Youth ‘Far Greater’ Than Covid, The Daily Wire, By  Amanda Prestigiacomo

Freedom is Scary Ep. 6: Black Rifle Rights and the FBI Lawyer

Also the new 9th Circuit opinion, firearms history and I’ll show you an authentic Model 1866 Winchester Assault Rifle.

Duncan v. Becerra ruling 9th Circuit:

On Friday, a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed (by a 2-1 vote) a federal district court’s ruling that so-called “large capacity” magazines are protected by the Second Amendment. In the live cast, I discussed the ruling and the great foundation it lays for inclusion and equal treatment of AR-15 style rifles in the context of the 2nd and 4th Amendments. I may be the first lawyer to have cited this language, since it came down the same day I filed the brief in the Walker case:

“That LCMs [large capacity magazines] are commonly used today for lawful purposes ends the inquiry into unusualness. But the record before us goes beyond what is necessary under Heller: Firearms or magazines holding more than ten rounds have been in existence — and owned by American citizens — for centuries. Firearms with greater than ten round capacities existed even before our nation’s founding, and the common use of LCMs for self-defense is apparent in our shared national history.

Semi-automatic and multi-shot firearms were not novel or unforeseen inventions to the Founders, as the first firearm that could fire more than ten rounds without reloading was invented around 1580. Rapid fire guns, like the famous Puckle Gun, were patented as early as 1718 in London. Moreover, British soldiers were issued magazine-fed repeaters as early as 1658. As a predecessor to modern revolvers, the Pepperbox pistol design pre-dates the American Revolution by nearly one hundred years, with common variants carrying five to seven shots at the ready and with several European variants able to shoot 18 or 24 shots before reloading individual cylinders. Similarly, breech-loading, repeating rifles were conceptualized as early as 1791.

After the American Revolution, the record shows that new firearm designs proliferated throughout the states and few restrictions were enacted on firing capacities. The Girandoni air rifle, developed in 1779, had a 22-round capacity and was famously carried on the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1821, the Jennings multi-shot flintlock rifle could fire 12 shots without reloading. Around the late antebellum period, one variant of the Belgian Mariette Repeating Pepperbox could fire 18 shots without reloading. Pepperbox pistols maintained popularity over smaller- capacity revolvers for decades, despite the latter being of newer vintage. At this time, revolving rifles were also developed like the Hall rifle that held 15 shots.

The advent of repeating, cartridge-fed firearms occurred at the earliest in 1855 with the Volcanic Arms lever-action rifle that contained a 30-round tubular magazine, and at the latest in 1867, when Winchester created its Model 66, which was a full-size lever-action rifle capable of carrying 17 rounds. The carbine variant was able to hold 12 rounds. Repeating rifles could fire 18 rounds in half as many seconds, and over 170,000 were sold domestically. The Model 66 Winchester was succeeded by the Model 73 and Model 92, combined selling over 1.7 million total copies between 1873 and 1941.

The innovation of the self-contained cartridge along with stronger steel alloys also fostered development in handguns, making them smaller and increasing their capacities. Various revolver designs from France and Germany enabled up to 20 shots to be fired without reloading. A chain-fed variant, the French Guycot, allowed pistols to carry up to 32 shots and a rifle up to 100 shots. One American manufacturer experimented with a horizontally sliding “row of chambers” (an early stacked magazine) through a common frame, dubbed the Jarre “harmonica” pistol, holding ten rounds and patented in 1862. In 1896, Mauser developed what might be the first semi-automatic, recoil-operated pistol — the “Broomhandle” — with a detachable 20-round magazine. Luger’s semiautomatic pistol hit the market in 1899 and came with seven or eight round magazines, although a 32- round drum magazine was widely available.

In 1935, Browning developed the 13-round Hi-Power pistol which quickly achieved mass-market success. Since then, new semi-automatic pistol designs have replaced the revolver as the common, quintessential, self-defense weapon. Many of these pistol models have increased magazine capacities as a result of double-stacked magazines. One of the most popular handguns in America today is the Glock 17, which comes standard with a magazine able to hold 17 bullets.

Rifle magazine development paralleled that of pistol magazines. In 1927, Auto Ordinance Company released its semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine. A decade and a half later, the M-1 carbine was invented for the “citizen soldier” of WWII. The M-1 remained a common and popular rifle for civilians after the war. In 1963, almost 250,000 M- 1s, capable of holding between 15 and 30 rounds, were sold at steeply discounted prices to law-abiding citizens by the federal government. The ultimate successor to the M-1 was the M-16, with a civilian version dubbed the Armalite Model 15, or AR-15. The AR-15 entered the civilian market in 1963 with a standard 20-round magazine and remains today the “most popular rifle in American history.” The AR- 15 was central to a 1994 Supreme Court case in which the Court noted that semiautomatic rifles capable of firing “only one shot with each pull of the trigger” “traditionally have been widely accepted as lawful possessions.” Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600, 602 n.1, 603, 612 (1994). By the early-1970s, the AR-15 had competition from other American rifle models, each sold with manufacturer- standard 20-round or greater magazines. By 1980, comparable European models with similar capacities entered the American market.

The point of our long march through the history of firearms is this: The record shows that firearms capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition have been available in the United States for well over two centuries.7 While the Supreme Court has ruled that arms need not have been common during the founding era to receive protection under the Second Amendment, the historical prevalence of firearms capable of holding more than ten bullets underscores the heritage of LCMs in our country’s history. See Heller, 554 U.S. at 582.”

Read the order here:

https://www.firearmspolicy.org/9th-circuit-holds-large-capacity-firearm-magazines-protected-2nd-amendment

Walker Case – the AR-15 Open Carry Case – Opening Brief is filed

Well, here’s our opening brief in the Walker v. Putnam County, et al. open carry case. This went from a relatively simple search and seizure Section 1983 civil lawsuit, to a battle over gun rights and whether or not the AR-15 is entitled to equal treatment under the law at the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. This is the case where my client was stopped, harassed, and called a co@ksucker, twice, for trying to mind his own business and go coyote hunting. Just one nugget out of the video:

It is your fault! Because you co$ksuckers . . . start it.  I ask you for ID – when a law enforcement officer asks you for ID, it’s not “I don’t have to provide it,” it’s “here it is, sir,” because, by law, you fucking got to give it, when you are asked for it.  And if you think you don’t, [then] press the issue, we’ll find out; I’ll hook you, book you, jamb you in the jail; and then you can’t answer to a God damned judge.

At the urging of Putnam County (W. Va.), the Court ruled against us at the trial court level, and well, ruled against AR-15 style rifles as well:

Here, Walker’s possession of an AR-15-style rifle under these circumstances was unusual and alarming. Whereas possessing an AR-15 at a shooting range or on one’s own property would not raise an eyebrow, there was no obvious reason for the rifle’s possession here. Unlike a holstered handgun, like that at issue in U.S. v. Black, AR-15s are not commonly carried for self-defense. 707 F.3d at 535. Nor are they traditionally used for hunting. 

Seeing Walker at 6:00 p.m. in February in an urban area would further diminish an inference that Walker possessed the rifle for hunting because the sun would soon set and hunting after dark is generally prohibited. The rifle being uncased, ready to fire at a moment’s notice, and Walker’s camouflage pants also contributed to an unusual presentation of the firearm. 

(Read the ruling itself here: https://thecivilrightslawyer.com/2020/03/02/federal-court-rules-against-us-in-the-walker-case-let-the-appeal-begin/)

Why might you care about these issues? If you live in the jurisdiction of the Fourth Circuit (WV, VA, MD, NC, SC), and in particular one of the open carry states therein (WV, VA, and NC) then the outcome of this case will affect your rights one way or the other. We’ve had a couple of really bad gun rights decisions handed down in the Fourth Circuit in 2017 (US v. Robinson and the Kolbe case). If we lose this one, our last vestige of gun freedoms, contained in the holding of US v. Black (2013) will be overturned.

Since AR-15 style rifles are completely legal to possess in West Virginia, including in the context of open carry, we had to appeal, and we had to cover a lot of ground in our opening brief. Mind you, there’s a page limit, and I spent hours deleting great arguments I had already written, as well as great quotes I wanted to include, in order to bring it under the page limit:

Here’s a live video I did on the case last night. The entire incident was recorded, and is shown/discussed at around the 12:00 mark. The original video’s still up on our channel as well.

Here’s the original video, if you haven’t seen it already:

The legal challenge to the WV Governor continues

Here’s the live cast video I did yesterday on the ongoing fight against the West Virginia Governor’s COVID related executive orders, such as the so-called “mask mandate” and other restrictions:

There was a great article in The Federalist yesterday by Molly McCann, titled, “Governors Can’t Use Coronavirus To Indefinitely Declare A State Of Emergency. This is exactly what I’ve been saying:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia often noted that the primary safeguard of our constitutional liberties is the structure of our government. Every banana republic has a bill of rights, he once said, but the strength of the American system is the separation of powers.

At the federal level, there are three separate, co-equal branches of government that must operate together for our representative republic to function properly, and this balance of power is mirrored at the state level. Unhappily, our system today is not functioning as designed.

There’s technically nothing currently protecting us from experiencing what’s happening in Australia right now. A governor – especially in WV – could just order us to stay in our homes indefinitely, and nothing currently in place would be able to stop them. The longer we allow unchecked executive control to continue, the greater the damage to our system of government. We in WV have even less protections than other states when it comes to a governor instituting an indefinite state of emergency power grab. At the very least, we’ll still have the ballot box (if the governors don’t restrict us to mail-in voting, of course):

Most state statutes automatically terminate emergency authority after a 30- or 60-day period, unless specifically extended by the governor. This highlights that emergencies are assumed to be of short duration. Our current quandary is that governors are using COVID as an excuse to extend their authority indefinitely.

If the governors are empowered to declare and continue a state of emergency, what is the remedy? The Founders believed the first and most powerful check on the executive would be the ballot box. In modern practice, one of the best checks on the individual policies an executive contemplates has been the resistance of the electorate in real-time. The coronavirus crisis has once again proved that state and local races matter deeply.

Unfortunately, West Virginia’s emergency statute does not have an automatic shut-off valve. It continues until the Governor steps down from the throne, or until a majority of the legislature votes to stop it. Then we have the issue of the legislature not being in session to do so until February of 2021….

As Ms. McCann opines, when the legislature does get a chance to do its thing, rather than just squabble over federal COVID money, they need to take immediate action to stop future gubernatorial tyrants, who very well may be worse than the one we have right now:

To declare emergencies, to close businesses and confine Americans to their homes, to mandate masks, to limit access to churches, to suspend your civil liberties, the governors point to power enumerated by statute—that is, defined by the legislature. Where the legislature defined the terms, it can redefine the terms. Where they are empowered to do so, state legislatures must begin to declare the emergency at an end, rebuke the governors’ power grabs, and recalibrate the allocation of power to its proper balance among the branches.

Unfortunately, rather than reclaiming authority from governors, many state legislatures right now are fighting over which branch gets to decide how to spend the federal dollars states are receiving in emergency aid. It is not clear that the balance of power will naturally revert to normal any time soon.

(emphasis added)

Under West Virginia law, the legislature may not delegate its core legislative responsibility to a governor. They’ve tried before, and were smacked down by the State Supreme Court. But to the extent that it has done so already, or to the extent that the Governor thinks they did so, it needs to be nipped in the bud as soon as possible. The legislature should completely re-write the emergency powers statute to protect the people. And to protect themselves, frankly.

BJJ and Police Use of Force – Freedom is Scary Livecast No. 3

In “Freedom is Scary” LIVE No. 3, I discuss Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (“BJJ”) with former law enforcement officer and BJJ academy owner/coach, Adam Martin.

Why? Because ever since the death of George Floyd, “chokehold” has been the word of the day. Trump brought them up in his June 16, 2020 Executive Order, and now many states have issued orders, or enacted legislation, banning the use of so-called “chokeholds” by police officers.

The problem is, that the term doesn’t mean what they think it means, and in doing so, they’re changing the rules of self defense for police officers. As with other civil rights, if you allow it to be done to one group of people, it always grows like a virus to include groups of people who were not intended to be affected. In this video we discuss what that means.

On June 16, 2020, President Donald Trump (R) issued an executive order, titled Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities, addressing changes to policing on June 16, 2020.The order directed the U.S. Department of Justice to create an independent credentialing body that would develop a set of criteria for state and local law enforcement agencies to meet in order to be awarded federal grants. The order stated that the criteria should address excessive use of force, include de-escalation training, and ban the use of chokeholds, except when the use of deadly force is lawful.

The chokehold provisions of Trump’s E.O.:

(i)   the State or local law enforcement agency’s use-of-force policies adhere to all applicable Federal, State, and local laws; and

(ii)  the State or local law enforcement agency’s use-of-force policies prohibit the use of chokeholds — a physical maneuver that restricts an individual’s ability to breathe for the purposes of incapacitation — except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.

Just what in the hell does that mean anyways…..

Many states have followed suit, banning “chokeholds.” Most notably, I’ll point out that Connecticut actually got the terminology correct, successfully banning pretty much every good submission you’ll see on the UFC.

On July 31, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) signed a policing policy bill into law. Under HB 6004, the following was enacted, according to the governor’s office:

On June 15, 2020, Lamont signed an executive order to change law enforcement strategies. The order banned “the Connecticut State Police from using chokeholds, strangleholds, arm-bar control holds, lateral vascular neck restraints, carotid restraints, chest compressions, or any other tactics that restrict oxygen or blood flow to the head or neck,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

You’ll have to watch the discussion to see what Adam has to say about this policy, but it has something to do with not being a state trooper in Connecticut…..

Update: Podcast version: https://thejohnbryanpodcast.podbean.com/e/freedom-is-scary-no-3-bjj-training-and-police-use-of-force/

Freedom is Scary Livecast No. 2 – WV Delegates Jim Butler and S. Marshal Wilson

Today’s “Freedom is Scary” Livecast discussion with West Virginia patriot legislators, Marshal Wilson and Jim Butler. On our lawsuit against the WV Governor, freedom, history, the gubernatorial race, and more.

Download or listen to the audio-only Podcast version: https://thejohnbryanpodcast.podbean.com/e/freedom-is-scary-episode-2-lawsuit-against-wv-governor/

WV Governor’s proposed Travel Ban is unconstitutional

Yesterday our Governor, Jim Justice, in one of his live-stream briefings, threatened to order a travel ban of sorts, where any West Virginia resident who leaves the state will be forcibly tested for COVID-19 and quarantined. Before I even get to the potential Fourth Amendment violations which he’s proposing, the restrictions on interstate travel – that is traveling between states – is about as clear-cut of a violation as you can get.

These are his words:

Mandatory testing and quarantining when residents return to the state from out of state travel “is on the table,” Justice said.

Gov. Justice says mandatory testing and quarantining are ‘on the table’ for out of state travel after increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations

The Governor in Kentucky tried this and was shot-down in federal court. Kentucky attorney, Chris Weist, sued the Kentucky Governor in federal court in response to his “travel ban,” and the Court found it to be clearly unconstitutional. The Kentucky ban “limited the reasons that Kentucky residents could leave the state and required that any person who left the state without a valid reason be self-quarantined for 14-days after their return.”

As outlined in Beshear’s two executive orders, order 2020-206 and 2020-258, individuals were only permitted to leave the state for employment, to receive or provide health care, to obtain groceries or other needed supplies, and when they were required to do so by a court order. The orders also allowed a resident to travel outside the state to assist in caring for the elderly, a minor, dependants, or vulnerable or disabled persons.

Kentucky’s Covid-19 Travel Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky struck it down:

After careful review, the Court concludes that the Travel Ban does not pass constitutional muster. The restrictions infringe on the basic right of citizens to engage in interstate travel, and they carry with them criminal penalties.

The “‘constitutional right to travel from one State to another’ is firmly embedded in our jurisprudence.” Saenz v. Rose, 526 U.S. 489, 498 (1999) (quoting United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 757 (1966)). Indeed, the right is “virtually unconditional.”Id. (quoting Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 643 (1969)). See also United States v. Guest, 383 U.S. 745, 757 (1966) (“Theconstitutional right to travel from one State to another … occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union. It is a right that has been firmly established andrepeatedly recognized.”).

Roberts v. Neace, et al., Civil Action No. 2:20-cv-054, E.D. KY., May 4, 2020.

The federal court in Kentucky went on to say that it is possible that it might be constitutional if it were less restrictive. For instance, if it was a “request,” or “guidance,” rather than something that was going to be forcibly enforced. Or at least attempted to be enforced.

The key is that restriction on travel must be narrowly tailored so as to choose the least drastic means of achieving the objective. The federal court in Kentucky gave the following examples of individuals who would be unconstitutionally affected by the Kentucky ban:

  1. A person who lives or works in Covington would violate the order by taking a walk on the Suspension Bridge to the Ohio side and turning around and walking back, since the state border is several yards from the Ohio riverbank.
  2. A person who lives in Covington could visit a friend in Florence, Kentucky (roughly eight miles away) without violating the executive orders. But if she visited another friend in Milford, Ohio, about the same distance from Covington, she would violate the Executive Orders and have to be quarantined on return to Kentucky. Both these trips could be on an expressway and would involve the same negligible risk of contracting the virus.
  3. Family members, some of whom live in Northern Kentucky and some in Cincinnati less than a mile away, would be prohibited from visiting each other, even if social distancing and other regulations were observed.
  4. Check points would have to be set up at the entrances to the many bridges connecting Kentucky to other states. The I- 75 bridge connecting Kentucky to Ohio is one of the busiest bridges in the nation. Massive traffic jams would result. Quarantine facilities would have to be set up by the State to accommodate the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would have to be quarantined.
  5. People from states north of Kentucky would have to be quarantined if they stopped when passing through Kentucky on the way to Florida or other southern destinations.
  6. Who is going to provide the facilities to do all the quarantining?

Most, if not all, of the same examples would occur here in West Virginia, if the Governor had his way. There can be little doubt that a federal challenge would be successful. The question is, does he care?

ALSO, DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE BY EMAIL. NO SPAM, JUST POST NOTIFICATIONS.

UPDATE: the Livecast:

Also, here’s the link to the 1969 law review article I discussed:

Constitutional Protection for Freedom of Movement: A Time for Decision by Sheldon Elliot Steinbach, Kentucky Law Journal, 1969

And here’s the quote and cite for the 1849 case I mentioned:

For all the great purposes for which the Federal Government was formed, we are one people, with one common country. We are all citizens of the United States; and, as members ofthe community, must have the right to pass and repass through every part of it without interruption, as freely as in our own States.

Smith v. Turner, 48 U.S. 7 283, 292 (1849).

UPDATE 8/18: the podcast audio from the live cast:

https://thejohnbryanpodcast.podbean.com/e/freedom-is-scary-episode-2-lawsuit-against-wv-governor/

FRIDAY FIGHT – LIVE UPDATE

LIVE AT NOON TODAY. Watch here, on Youtube Live, or an Facebook Live.

I haven’t yet begun to fight, is the theme of the week. Many fights are ongoing, and many are waiting on deck. In this video, I give an end-of-the-week update to many of the civil rights cases we’re currently fighting, as well as some of the current real civil rights issues, in my opinion, of course. Some of the thecivilrightslawyer.com blog posts from this week, in case you missed them:

Delegating our Freedom to a Czar: https://thecivilrightslawyer.com/2020…

COVID Tyranny and the Truth: https://thecivilrightslawyer.com/2020…

Radio Interview Responding to the Attorney General: https://thecivilrightslawyer.com/2020… The Imminent Eviction Wave: https://thecivilrightslawyer.com/2020…

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Note: Maryland’s highest court affirms that police can’t use the smell of marijuana to search and arrest a person

ETA: during the live cast I mentioned my hemp-law-guru who told me about the MD marijuana case. I should have mentioned, that’s Jennifer Mason, Esq. She’s the go-to person for up-to-date hemp law around the country.

The “Imminent Eviction Wave”

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was able to stop evictions of renters during the coronavirus pandemic. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) also made it unlawful for landlords to evict tenants in federally subsidized or federally backed housing. However, those protections expired on July 24.

Since governors across the country shut down the economy, many streams of income stopped. As a result, renters got behind, or stopped paying rent. Tomorrow, July 31, 25 million Americans will no longer receive their weekly $600.00 federal unemployment checks. The next round, if it happens, will likely be reduced.

West Virginia appears to be ground zero:

The analysis is based on Household Pulse Data from mid-July and it found that some states will be hit harder than others. For example, West Virginia is estimated to have the highest share of renter households facing eviction at close to 60%. Tennessee, Minnesota, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana are all among the states set to be worst impacted with shares at 50% or higher. Elsewhere, Vermont is the state where renters will be at the lowest risk of eviction, though 22% of them will potentially lose their homes over the course of the crisis. – Forbes 

“It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen,”  said John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. In 2016, there were 2.3 million evictions, Pollock said. “There could be that many evictions in August,” he said. Zero hedge

The WV Supreme Court had suspended evictions in the state (though I don’t see how that’s constitutional) but that was up on May 15. As of now, evictions may proceed. Legal Aid of West Virginia has a good self-help page set up to answer a lot of the questions.

The WV Attorney General also has published a brochure so that you know what your rights are. Just FYI.

http://ago.wv.gov/consumerprotection/Documents/Renters%27%20Rights%20Brochure.pdf

Like the Governor said, “a little overreaction never hurt anybody . . . so long as it saves one life.”