RED BLUFF Daily
March 29th, 2003
Supreme Court issues
Sat Mar 29 09:05:01 2003 -- Bird jubilant over reply that his 2nd Amendment claim may be read.
A Rancho Tehama man has moved a step farther in his quest to make California officials admit that private citizens have a right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution.
Don Bird the 68-year-old, self-proclaimed patriot who filed suit against California officials after the passage of several gun-control laws, has officially received a docket number for his case in the United States Supreme Court.
"I've beat the odds, I now have the key to the front door," said Bird. "I've got a long way to go but the fact that they've accepted my writ is just awesome, especially for a guy who's not an attorney."
Word came early Wednesday that the docket number had been issued and according to Bird he was "elated" when he heard the news that his journey was coming to an end in the high court.
"I almost fainted, I swear to God I just came unglued," said Bird. "I can't tell you how happy I am."
With the issuance of the docket number and the acceptance of the writ, Supreme Court clerks will now begin reading Bird's suit and decide whether or not it will be read by the justices and heard by the supreme law of the land.
"The issuance of the docket number means a win-win situation, either way I'm going to get a decision," said Bird. "I'm in the big building now and it's all in the hands of the nine gods."
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Those words are what led Bird to file a Writ of Mandamus in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit, filed against Gov. Gray Davis and various California legislators, claims that the government has infringed upon his Second Amendment rights by passing several gun-control laws that he says violate his private right to bear arms.
In November 2001, Bird filed a civil lawsuit in United States District Court in Sacramento. The lawsuit demanded Gov. Gray Davis and state attorney general Bill Lockyer "obey the oath (of office) and acknowledge the fact and exact true wording of the Second Amendment." In his suit Bird has simply asked for acknowledgement of his Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms as a private citizen. Bird has never sought monetary settlements in his suit.
With a denial of the Writ of Mandamus at the U.S. District Court, Bird was able to take his case of the Ninth Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
In March of 2002 Bird was told by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows that "neither the Second nor the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution grants a private right to bear arms."
After an appeal the Court in turn refused to rule on Bird's petition. In their sole comments on the case the court said that to the best of their knowledge "no related cases are pending."
The Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
That led Bird to seek the help of the Supreme Court where he hopes his case will be heard by the nine presiding justices. Earlier this year he prepared a 24-page Petition for Writ of Certiorari and submitted it to the Supreme Court, asking that they either issue a ruling on his case or order the Ninth Circuit to render a decision.
According to Bird the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most overturned circuit court in the United States. Coincidentally it is also the court that ruled the word God should be stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance
Bird, who has not utilized the services of an attorney in his courtroom quest for acknowledgement of his rights, hopes his case is heard by the Supreme Court sometime this year. In the past 20 months Bird has traversed the U.S. judicial system taking his lawsuit through the U.S. District Court to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and now to the Supreme Court.
Bird has labored on the case for more than two years now. According to the former Marine, he did all his own legal work and writing. Bird also funded the suit entirely on his own at an estimated cost of $5,000 for filing, refiling and copy costs.
He will now wait anywhere from a matter of months to a year to be notified whether or not the court will hear the case or if they will send it back to the ninth circuit. He say's he is confident that the court will view his case and make some type of decision.
"I am confident that the Supreme Court Justices will hear my case," said Bird. "For two reasons, first they disdain the Ninth Circuit and love to prove them wrong and second because it is a first impression case."
According to Bird the Supreme Court has not made an important or impacting decision regarding the 2nd Amendment in more than six decades.
The proud former Marine says after his work is done in the big court he plans to write a book. He say's he has been approached by several individuals who encouraged him to put his views into a print and he has decided to take their advice.
He has also said that the two-year experience has been worth all the hard work. "Persistence pays off," said Bird.
Bird, who is a man dedicated to changing policy rather than complaining about it, says he has filed his lawsuit in part to motivate others.
"I just want people to realize that they can make a difference," said Bird. "I want people to get off their fannies and get involved. Fight back a little bit!"