District Court ruling on gun control issue affirmed

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed the District Court’s ruling that denied the Tanapag Middle School Parent Teacher Student Association’s motion to intervene to appeal in the lawsuit filed U.S. Navy veteran David J. Radich and his wife, who successfully challenged the constitutionality of the CNMI gun control law.

The Ninth Circuit judges concluded that the Tanapag Middle School (PTSA) lacks standing to intervene.

Therefore, the Ninth Circuit judges said, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona did not err in denying PTSA’s motion to intervene.

The judges said because they conclude that the PTSA lacks standing, they decline to address the Radiches’ argument that the appeal is moot, as well as the PTSA’s challenges on the merits to Manglona’s summary judgment order.

The Tanapag Middle School PTSA, through counsel Joseph E. Horey, appealed to the Ninth Circuit from Manglona’s order denying its motion to intervene.

The PTSA wants the Ninth Circuit to reverse the federal court’s order that denied its motion to intervene into the Radich couple’s lawsuit.

The PTSA also seeks an order from the Ninth Circuit to reverse the federal court’s ruling that favored the Radich couple’s lawsuit.

Citing that there is no longer anything to appeal, Manglona on May 27, 2016 denied PTSA’s motion to intervene.

Manglona said when the Commonwealth Legislature repealed the law at the heart of the Radich couple’s lawsuit, it rendered moot the case or controversy subject to judicial decision, and essentially made the scope of CNMI gun control a political matter.

“Because the provisions challenged in this lawsuit no longer exist, and the Radiches no longer have anything to enjoin, PTSA no longer has a case into which it can intervene,” Manglona said.

In her March 28, 2016 ruling, Manglona declared unconstitutional the CNMI gun control law that prohibits all residents from obtaining handguns for self-defense purposes.

In response, the CNMI passed Public Law 19-42, SAFE Act, which removes the ban on possession of handguns and also establishes new rules for transporting and using firearms.

PTSA then filed a motion to intervene for purposes of appeal in the Radich couple’s lawsuit.

Manglona agreed with the Radiches that certain provisions of the CNMI’s Weapons Control Act violated the 2nd and 14th amendments.

The CNMI government did not appeal, but the PTSA moved to intervene to appeal and to contend on appeal that the Act was valid.

Manglona denied PTSA’s motion.

PTSA then brought the case to the Ninth Circuit.

In affirming Manglona’s ruling, the Ninth Circuit judges said the PTSA claims that Manglona’s order striking down the Act will require the PTSA to install metal detectors in schools or hire security guards to protect against an increased danger of gun violence.

Yet, the Ninth Circuit judges said, the PTSA, a voluntary association, has not shown that it has a legal duty to take such protective measures or that the Manglona’s order requires the PTSA “to do or refrain from doing anything.”

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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