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Federal Judge Rules That The Government Cannot Impose A Charge Over A Constitutional Right

The National Press Photographers Association won a legal battle over the “commercial filming” permit specifically levied against the practice which is protected by the First Amendment rights in the Bill of Rights. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that he government’s requirement for permits and special filming fees was unconstitutional.

In her ruling, Judge Kollar-Kotelly found that the rules requiring special commercial filming permits and additional fees restricted the public speech, were content-based on speech, and thus subject to strict scrutiny. She also determined that the request for additional fees above the government’s administration costs failed the strict scrutiny as well.

The federal judge wrote that “The government may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the federal constitution, including the First Amendment right to free expression.” She issued an injunction stopping the enforcement of the unconstitutional requirements.

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Although the ruling was about the first amendment, gun rights groups noted that it could also apply to the second amendment rights. This is because both rights are constitutionally protected under the Bill of Rights.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly’s decision voids gun and ammo taxes that some states impose on firearm sales. Additionally, the ruling was about the commercialization of a protected right. Thus for the non-commercial exercise of rights such as the right to keep and bear arms, the ruling could be more relevant.

However, it does not lift other taxes including VAT, licensing, or licensing fees. Additionally, the government could also appeal the ruling, pushing it to the Supreme Court which could make a final ruling.

The judge also noted that "a more targeted permitting regime for commercial filming, which is more closely connected to the threat posed by large groups and heavy filming equipment, may pass constitutional muster in the future." Other courts could argue that guns pose potential threats and are therefore subject to more targeted regulations.

However, if the decision was upheld, the Second Amendment rights groups could have more firepower in fighting against various restrictions and costs.

The most concerning thing is that the second amendment is always looked down upon, while the first amendment is highly promoted. Despite the strong protections spelled out in the 2A and subsequent rulings such as Heller, many courts find “room to wiggle” and uphold various unconstitutional restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. Consequently, the protections are rarely upheld.

The only way to know how the ruling applies to the Second Amendment is by filing a case based on strict scrutiny. Meanwhile, anti-gun authorities could keep treading on our second amendment rights as they have in the past.


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