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City of Weston, Florida, et al. v. Florida: Protecting local democratic processes

Case Information: City of Weston, Florida, et al.  v.  Florida, No. 1D19-2819 (Supreme Court of Florida, filed November 24, 2021)

At Issue: While states have increasingly turned to preemption laws to limit local government’s ability to pass gun safety regulations,  Florida’s preemption law goes further, creating personal liability for  legislators who even consider passing local gun safety  regulations. The State, as well as the National Rifle Association in its own amicus brief, argue that the individual liability provision encourages uniform firearm laws. However, it also has a chilling effect on local democratic processes when legislators are discouraged from passing an ordinance if it has even a slight chance of preempting state law.

Our Brief: In a joint brief with the League of Women Voters of Florida, Brady, and the Equality Florida Institute, Inc., we argue that the Court should not uphold the penalty provisions of Florida’s preemption law. It is difficult for legislators to take necessary and meaningful action at the local level, as there is necessarily ambiguity over whether a new local law is preempted by state law. We present evidence demonstrating that at times the Attorney General and the courts have reached different conclusions on the same question, which means that legislators will be discouraged from passing even un-preempted law regulation. This is an unconstitutional breach of legislative immunity. Moreover, neither the State nor the NRA has provided evidence that such penalty provisions are necessary. While the NRA points to two “contemptuous” violations of the state preemption law that purportedly make this provision necessary, our brief examines both and determines that neither demonstrate such violations, and in fact demonstrate respect for state law. We cite other examples demonstrating violations of the Second Amendment that also failed to support its point.

Read the full text of our amicus brief here.