Wade v. University of Michigan: Keeping Guns off Campus
Case Information: Wade v. University of Michigan, No. 156150 (Mich. brief filed March 1, 2021).
At Issue: Since 2001, the University of Michigan has had a policy which generally prohibits the possession of weapons (including firearms) on campus, with limited exceptions. Plaintiff Joshua Wade applied to the school’s director of public safety and security for an “extraordinary circumstances” exemption to the prohibition, and was denied. He then sued the University, alleging that its prohibition of weapons on campus violated the Second Amendment. The Court of Claims dismissed the case, so he appealed to the Court of Appeals of Michigan, which upheld the dismissal. The case is now on appeal before the Michigan Supreme Court.
Giffords Law Center’s Brief: Our brief argues that the Michigan Supreme Court should endorse the two-step test for determining whether a regulation violates the Second Amendment, and that the regulation in question easily survives the two step test. First, we argue that the Michigan Supreme Court should follow the consensus that has emerged among federal and state courts regarding the use of the two-step, scrutiny-based standard for determining whether a regulation violates the Second Amendment. We then argue that Heller did not use a purely historical test, and that a purely historical test would be difficult to administer and anti-federalist, limiting states’ ability to innovate to protect public safety. Finally, we argue that the University of Michigan’s regulation is constitutional, both because history demonstrates that carrying guns on campus falls outside the scope of the Second Amendment, and because the regulation survives intermediate scrutiny because it is substantially related to important governmental objectives: maintaining camps safety and fostering the free exchange of ideas in the classroom.