The Second Amendment Foundation and founder Alan Gottlieb have moved their civil rights lawsuit against Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson from federal court to Washington State court in a move the plaintiffs hope will bring a speedier resolution to their case.
“We believe we will do better in the state courts, considering Ferguson’s loss before the state Supreme Court earlier this year in the long-running Value Village case,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The state high court ruled unanimously that Ferguson’s office ‘improperly used Washington Consumer Protection and Charitable Solicitations Acts to suppress constitutionally protected speech with which he disagreed.’
“On the other hand,” he recalled, “we won unanimously before the state Supreme Court in our lawsuit against the City of Edmonds for violating Washington State’s long-standing firearms preemption law. That was a legal action Ferguson’s office should have taken, but because of his clearly established anti-gun sentiments, the job of protecting Washington law fell to SAF.”
Joining the lawsuit is the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, SAF’s sister organization for which Gottlieb serves as chairman. Additional plaintiffs include the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the Service Bureau Association, Merril Mail Marketing and Liberty Park Press. They are represented by attorneys Steven W. Fogg and Jack M. Lovejoy at Corr Cronin LLP in Seattle.
In addition to Ferguson, the lawsuit also names three assistant AGs assigned to the Consumer Protection Division. All are being sued individually and in their official capacities.
The lawsuit came after the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office carried out an expansive and highly intrusive probe into the private affairs of SAF, CCRKBA, CDFE, SBA, LPP, MMM, Gottlieb and his family. It has served Civil Investigative Demands (“CIDs”) on each of the plaintiffs, including two on Gottlieb, citing the same consumer protection laws which the state Supreme Court ruled Ferguson and his office had abused in the Value Village case.
“After much deliberation, we felt it was best to move this lawsuit to state court where the Washington Attorney General has already been held to account for abusing his office’s authority,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “SAF has, and continues to, cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office by providing requested information, offering employees for depositions, and delivering updated documents before they are requested. We are ambivalent that the Washington Courts will put a swift end to the Attorney General’s continuing undue harassment stemming from his seeming desire to score cheap political points by copying one of his colleague’s tactics to bolster his otherwise unimpressive resume for his gubernatorial bid.”