Judge orders Iowa sheriff to complete course on Constitution after concealed-carry denial

posted at 2:00 pm on July 18, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Here’s a lighter story for fans of McDonald and Heller, and perhaps a reminder of just how much gun rights have become mainstream.  A week ago, a federal judge in Iowa ordered Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber to take an in-depth course on the US Constitution after overturning his decision to deny Paul Dorr a concealed-carry permit.  Weber had rejected Dorr’s application because of his political activism:

A federal judge has lambasted an Iowa sheriff for denying a gun permit to an outspoken government watchdog and anti-abortion advocate whom some in the area considered “weird.”

It was wrong for Osceola County Sheriff Douglas Weber to deny Paul Dorr of Ocheyedan a permit to carry a concealed weapon three years ago, according to a court ruling issued Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett also ordered Weber to successfully complete a court-approved course on the U.S. Constitution within five months.

“In denying (Dorr) a concealed weapons permit, Sheriff Weber single-handedly hijacked the First Amendment and nullified its freedoms and protections,” Bennett wrote in the ruling. ….

“The court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of … Paul Dorr,” Bennett wrote in the decision.

Dorr does have a record, but for nonviolent protests related to his political activities.  None of the laws broken were serious, involving trespassing and blocking access to abortion facilities.  Dorr’s pro-life activism didn’t motivated Weber to deny his permits, however, as much as Dorr’s activism on excessive spending — within the sheriff’s department.  Until 2007, Dorr and his sons had no problem getting permits, but in the spring of that year, Dorr began requesting documents from the sheriff’s office on their spending and salaries.  In July 2007, Weber began denying permits for Dorr and his son, and had not relented until Dorr took him to court.

Law enforcement has a responsibility to maintain safety within the community, but the denial of Dorr’s permits was both capricious and retaliatory.  Sheriffs cannot deny citizens their civil rights merely out of fits of pique, a lesson Sheriff Weber shouldn’t have had to learn from the federal bench, nor from a five-month course on the Constitution.  That may be something for Weber’s constituents to consider the next time Weber stands for re-election. (via NAGR)


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Comments

“Sheriffs cannot deny citizens their civil rights merely out of fits of pique…”

Does that go for Presidents, too…?

Seven Percent Solution on July 18, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Need more judges like this. Now if only we could find a judge to sentence Congressmen to complete the same course on the US Constitution.

ButterflyDragon on July 18, 2010 at 2:07 PM

I’m as “pro firearm possession” as they come, but there’s got to be more details to this we’re not getting.

listens2glenn on July 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

There’s a lot more who need to sign up for that class just so they know what they swore to defend when they assumed office… hopefully noted constitutional scholar Prof. Barack Obama isn’t teaching it.

cartooner on July 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Judge Bennett please move to NY!

Caper29 on July 18, 2010 at 2:09 PM

I read the Des Moines Register story and didn’t see the Sheriff’s party affiliation mentioned…although I can probably guess. Think that had anything to do with his attitude?

Extrafishy on July 18, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Good that this happened now. I think Iowa becomes a shall issue state 1 January, 2011. The sheriff got the spanking he needed.

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 2:13 PM

I believe that four justices on the Supreme Court should be required to complete a course on the Constitution.

Actually, they should probably removed from duty for their votes on McDonald. How do you rule against the Constitution? That should be an impeachable offense.

El_Terrible on July 18, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Extrafishy on July 18, 2010 at 2:12 PM

He’s a TP Member- I kid.

The Sheriff’s actions are enough. Even if he had a D next to his name.

Maybe the judge needs to take that course too.

CWforFreedom on July 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I wonder if Judge Bennett might move to Illinois and see to it those there read the Constitution!
L

letget on July 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I think the judge should order Obama to take the Course. He seems to know very little about the Bill of Rights, and what powers are enumerated as the only powers the federal government has.

Remember, in Obama’s mind the Constitution is what the government cannot do ‘for you’. Unless you are a taxpayer.

tarpon on July 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Uh, a course in the Constitution doesn’t mean much if it’s taught by someone like, oh I don’t know, Barack Obama.

Now, a sentence of listening to Mark Levin for a month? That would be a valuable education in the Constitution.

Jaynie59 on July 18, 2010 at 2:15 PM

I’m as “pro firearm possession” as they come, but there’s got to be more details to this we’re not getting.

listens2glenn on July 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

I think it’s pretty obvious from reading the story exactly what happened. The man was given a permit for nearly 20 years until the year he started questioning the spending of the county government. Specifically the spending at the Sheriff’s Department. Who “coincidentally” denied his permit right after requests for information on that department.

It’s obvious the denial was retribution.

ButterflyDragon on July 18, 2010 at 2:16 PM

Need more judges like this. Now if only we could find a judge to sentence Congressmen to complete the same course on to lengthy prison terms for willfully violating the US Constitution.

ButterflyDragon on July 18, 2010 at 2:07

One minor change and I’d agree wholeheartedly!

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM

I’m as “pro firearm possession” as they come, but there’s got to be more details to this we’re not getting.

listens2glenn on July 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

You’re sympathetic to that sheriff? I’m not. While it’s possible that there may have been more to the case, I find it easier to believe that it’s a simple case of “what you see is what you get.”

gryphon202 on July 18, 2010 at 2:18 PM

“The court finds a tsunami, a maelstrom, an avalanche, of direct uncontroverted evidence in Sheriff Weber’s own testimony to conclude beyond all doubt that he unquestionably violated the First Amendment rights of … Paul Dorr,” Bennett wrote in the decision.

Man, wonder if this judge was a fan of the legendary “hanging judge” Judge Roy Bean.

This ruling of Bennett’s sounds like a ruling Bean once made against someone named Jose Manuel Miguel Gonzales:

Jose Manuel Miguel Gonzales, in a few short weeks it will be spring. The snows of winter will flow away, the ice will vanish, the air will become soft and balmy. The annual miracle of the years will awaken and come to pass.

But you will not be there.

The rivulet will run its soaring course to the sea. The timid desert flowers will put forth their tender shoots. The glorious valleys in this imperial domain will blossom as the rose.

Still you will not be there.

From every treetop, some wildwood songster will carol his mating song. Butterflies will sport in the sunshine. The gentle breeze will tease the tassels of the wild grasses and all nature will be glad.

But you will not be there to enjoy it.

Because I command the sheriff of the county to lead you away to some remote spot, swing you by the neck from a knotting bough of some sturdy oak and let you hang until dead.

And then Jose Manuel Miguel Gonzales, I further command that such officer retire quickly from your dangling corpse, that vultures may descend from the heavens upon your filthy body until nothing is left but the bare, bleached bones of a cold-blooded, blood-thirsty, throat-cutting, murdering S.O.B.

pilamaye on July 18, 2010 at 2:18 PM

I’m as “pro firearm possession” as they come, but there’s got to be more details to this we’re not getting.

listens2glenn on July 18, 2010 at 2:08 PM

The key here is that the judge’s ruling was based on violation of the 1st amendment not the 2nd. He basically censured the sheriff for denying the plaintiff’s second amendment rights in retribution for his exercise of the first amendment.

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 2:20 PM

Awesomeness. Legal victory and ‘good ol boy’ pwnage in one sweet-tasting package.

Dark-Star on July 18, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 2:20 PM

I’m dense today. I didn’t get that until your comment. Thanks, you saved me an embarrassing question.

hawkdriver on July 18, 2010 at 2:25 PM

I’m dense today. I didn’t get that until your comment. Thanks, you saved me an embarrassing question.

hawkdriver on July 18, 2010 at 2:25 PM

Not to worry, it was a face/palm moment for me too.

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Holder, when you’re done with Arizona and Louisiana, there something happening in Iowa that needs your attention.
/

Electrongod on July 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Wow! Maybe someone should mail a copy to Mayor Daly.

GarandFan on July 18, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Isn’t it weird that the word “weird” will almost make you think the sheriff was doing the right thing. But facts are funny things and makes me wonder why the sheriff was so upset about his finances being looked into.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2010 at 2:36 PM

All this argument over the 2nd Amendment has always made me think:

I don’t think the Founders expected the Bill of Rights to become “angels on the head of a pin” fodder. They relied upon a shared base of “common sense” among the citizenry to implement it. It was written to directly address public fears over the Constitution. These men were so smart that they put in there exactly what they thought necessary.

Regarding the Second Amendment specifically, despite the parenthetical insertion of “well-regulated militia” as a justification, the operative clause was “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

That was the whole point of it – to guarantee to citizens that no one would INFRINGE their right to retain the weapons that had just rescued them from a tyrant.

The idea that the word INFRINGED (look up the word, “fringe” – it means the very edge of something, connected on one boundary by the rest of the substance, and on the other by open air or water or earth) is so unequivocal that any English teacher could interpret the 2nd Amendment better than modern judges.

I can’t help but think about the magnitude of the damage done to the rule of law by Bill Clinton trying to define the word, “IS.” It, at once, both lifted the veil on the corrosive effects of lawyers on our republic, and gave a new public impetus to using hair-splitting tactics to get what you want by DESTROYING the explicit intent of the law through legal perversion.

It’s my own take, but due to the legal imapct, I will ALWAYS trace the roots of the current undoing of the rule of law in America to Monica Lewinsky and a pizza, and the failure to convict Clinton in the Senate.

cane_loader on July 18, 2010 at 2:42 PM

I grew up and lived in Iowa for many years. I had a CCW, but wouldn’t have if a deputy hadn’t been one of my clients. The “may issue” phrase was routinely abused by most elected IA LE officials.

a capella on July 18, 2010 at 2:43 PM

To think that our rights are in the hands of judges.

Scherzophrenic on July 18, 2010 at 2:47 PM

why the sheriff was so upset about his finances being looked into.

Cindy Munford on July 18, 2010 at 2:36 PM

I never wonder why pols might be upset that their finances get looked into.
Where there’s smoke…

massrighty on July 18, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Now where’s a judge to issue this onto Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and every other liberal hell bent on shredding the Constitution?

capejasmine on July 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Excellent, we need more sentences like this. Let’s make a course in the Constitution the equivalent of the forced ‘Diversity Training’ that the lefties have inflicted on millions in corporate America. The difference of course is that Constitutional training might actually teach something useful.

slickwillie2001 on July 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

slickwillie2001 on July 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

I don’t remember where it was but a few years ago I read an article about a judge that ordered a policeman and his supervisor to take a similar course. The reason, the policeman arrested a guy for giving him the finger. Judge said it was a clear expression of the first amendment and not a crime.

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 2:57 PM

If LE studies the Constitution at all, I get the impression that it’s along the lines of how to get around all those pesky amendments.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 18, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Wait till Kagan gets her hands on this ruling.

Mojave Mark on July 18, 2010 at 2:58 PM

This is emblemetic of how leftists have infiltrated and taken over the cogs of government. Red state, blue state, no difference, within the bureaucracies of every agency of gov’t the employees themselves are pursuing the leftist agenda. Even if the people elect conservatives to lead in a conservative manner, the various wheels inside the machine actively thwart their efforts. As Adams just testified before congress in the investigation of the NBPP case, carreer staff and atty’s only emplement law in a mannner that works to their agenda. This type of thing is pervasive throughout the system from Parks & Recreation to the school boards they feel they own it to do with as they please.

I’ve recently been enlightening as Brazillian buddy of mine who has come to regret his vote for Obama who thought anything labled “progressive” was good.He has since converted and is on a path of recovery. He asked me how Americans allowed a variety of such patent falsehoods to be so widely accepted after discovering none of his friends were aware that Lincoln & MLK were Republicans and that the Democrats have fought racial equality & minority rights since 1874 culminating in Robert Byrd’s(D) fillibuster in 1964. I told him “that’s easy, the teachers/profs that instructed their classes that taught them were Democrats who are hardly keen to teach the perfidy of their own party”.

Progressive minded people seem to naturally gravitate to civil service occupations where they can safely milk the system sams any competion based on performance and without the hurley burley rough & tumble, risk/reward real world in the free-market. So after generations of collectivist indoctrnation in our educational system they now permeate every strata of our mechanisms of governance. Even if we correct the situtation at the ballot box and bring rational candidates into office to steer towards a more rational course, I do not know how we are to address the problem of a machine that refuses to obey the driver. This problem that must addressed or all our efforts will be for naught.

Archimedes on July 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM

Wow. I never thought Paul Dorr would be making national headlines, but there it is in black and white. Yes, he’s a little off his rocker, but the judge was right. No one should be denied a CCW based on their legitimate political activities.

pookysgirl on July 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM

I do not know how we are to address the problem of a machine that refuses to obey the driver. This problem that must addressed or all our efforts will be for naught.

Archimedes on July 18, 2010 at 2:59 PM

I like your analogy and find it very appropriate. Having been acquainted with many types of machinery over the years and dealing with it in all manner of situations I’ve found that usually the simplest answer is best. If a machine is running out of control and refuses, for whatever reason, to respond to the demands of the operator you just pull the plug. Deprived of power it spins down and stops.

Oldnuke on July 18, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Excellent, we need more sentences like this. Let’s make a course in the Constitution the equivalent of the forced ‘Diversity Training’ that the lefties have inflicted on millions in corporate America. The difference of course is that Constitutional training might actually teach something useful.

slickwillie2001 on July 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

I can only hope. We have one constitutional scholar in the White House, and another waiting in the wings for confirmation as a Supreme Court justice. Fat lotta good it did those two.

gryphon202 on July 18, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Delicious: Bennett was actually appointed by Bill Clinton and apparently considers himself a liberal. In fact, he’s known to go after conservatives.

Hey, libs? You lost on gun rights.

amerpundit on July 18, 2010 at 3:20 PM

I have personally suffered dearly at the hands of one of these “protectors”. Thanks to a wrong assumption and zealotry, I lost my livelehood and destruction of my homelife all over a minor incident that I did not precipitate. The truth be damned, there was work to be done to save the world from the likes of me. I have lost all faith in law enforcement in this country and the so-called system of justice is more like injustice if you care to look up the defintions. Malfeasance has gotten to be all too common and this Iowa case is a prime example. I call them NAZIs. Remember, too, these people (storm troopers) are unionized.

LarryG on July 18, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Not to worry the trolls from the left the judge already has had death threats sent his way so you don’t have to worry. And he will be investigated for abusing his authority in upholding the law. And the Sheriff will continue in his job for a very long time.

tjexcite on July 18, 2010 at 3:25 PM

Hell Yeah!!! Too awesome for words. Guns are the only thing separating us from the servile servitude of the euro-zone.

abobo on July 18, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Need more judges like this. Now if only we could find a judge to sentence Congressmen to complete the same course on the US Constitution.

ButterflyDragon on July 18, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Lets start with this guy

macncheez on July 18, 2010 at 3:41 PM

When the Florida concealed carry law was being written and debated, the anti-gun lobby tried to get wording that required the citizen to state WHY he wanted the permit. Instead, the legislature made it so the citizen has to explain nothing the a denial requires an explanation that must fit within a narrow set of rules.

They also tried pushed for wording to indicate that the person must be under a threat to life or limb so the laws regarding home invasion or carjacking were amended to include that the assailant through the act of committing these crimes is ASSUMED to intend a threat to life or limb.

The concealed carry class I took was taught by a policeman that also trains police. His advice was that no matter what circumstances where or when, after you defend yourself with a gun, right after you call 911 to report a shooting, say nothing else and call your lawyer and make all future comments/statement with his/her advice. In other words, a cop said tell the cops NOTHING without advice of counsel.

CC

CapedConservative on July 18, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I’m sure the libs are already pondering how to use the tax code to make gun ownership prohibitively expensive. If the court upholds the ObamaCare mandate, I don’t see how the government can’t also force people to buy say third-party injury insurance or even slap a explicit tax on it.

year_of_the_dingo on July 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Doesn’t the judge understand? Douglas Weber won the election for sheriff! He won! That means, under the new ObamaRules (TM), the sheriff can do any stupid illegal thing he wants to under the guise of “I won!” Obviously this judge hasn’t kept current on White House precedent.
/s

rmgraha on July 18, 2010 at 4:53 PM

The judge decieds who the law applies too?
That is like Eric Holder. Holder says blacks can interfer with voting.

seven on July 18, 2010 at 5:01 PM

Would be nice if the local LEO here would just read the State law. I was told by police on two different ocassions that the carry permit only allowed concealed carry. Uh no, the law is completely silent on how to carry. One officer was a jerk, even after realizing I was correct as even the license itself does not say concealed, he berated me for open carry.

aikidoka on July 18, 2010 at 5:05 PM

I’m sure the libs are already pondering how to use the tax code to make gun ownership prohibitively expensive. If the court upholds the ObamaCare mandate, I don’t see how the government can’t also force people to buy say third-party injury insurance or even slap a explicit tax on it.

year_of_the_dingo on July 18, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Isn’t Chicago trying to require insurance for gun owners or did that get dropped from what they finally passed?

aikidoka on July 18, 2010 at 5:06 PM

This is why I am sooooooo glad that in AZ you can carry a concealed weapon whenever the hell you want.

Tim Burton on July 18, 2010 at 5:58 PM

How much did Paul Dorr spend in legal fees and lost personal time to “purchase” his constitutional right?

How much did it cost Sheriff Douglas Weber to deny Paul Dorr his rights?

Will Osceola County tax payers be paying for the Sheriff’s training?

Do the math. This is not a deterrent.

KyserS on July 18, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Now that Obama care has been passed I wonder how many doctors will be inquiring about patients firearm collections. You know? Being as firearms are a health threat and all.

BowHuntingTexas on July 18, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Well WTF do you need a cc permit for?

I was fn born with one, it is called the 2nd and 14th amendment.

Do women need a permit to vote? NO! They have the 19th amendment.
If you agree that a permit is needed to exercise an inalienable right then it is not inalienable.

TheSitRep on July 18, 2010 at 6:08 PM

Hmm….There will be an open seat on SCOTUS after the 2012 election. Just saying

shov74 on July 18, 2010 at 7:19 PM

Holder, when you’re done with Arizona and Louisiana, there something happening in Iowa that needs your attention.
/

Electrongod on July 18, 2010 at 2:31 PM

The Department of Just Us. The Obama DOJ applying the laws selectively to meet their own ideal utopia.

TN Mom on July 18, 2010 at 7:44 PM

CCW’s are unconstitutional.

I should have the right to defend myself anywhere, anytime with no need to spend money on anything other than my firearm and ammo. I conceal carry without, and I tell others they should too. I’ve saved up quite a bit of hard earned money and would love a good court case to spend it on.

Pols and LEO’s go hand in hand. Each protects the other at the expense of citizens.

Never lie to an LEO, but never trust one or turn your back on them either.

MadDogF on July 18, 2010 at 8:06 PM

I am not sure that the quote is properly attributed to Justice of the Peace Roy Bean. Mr. Bean was never a Judge.

I beleive that this is the:

United States of America v. Gonzales (1881) United States
District Court, New Mexico Territory Sessions Taos New Mexico.

Pelayo on July 18, 2010 at 8:48 PM

What a total idiot of a law man. He should quit or be fired.

griv on July 19, 2010 at 1:57 AM

Take Kagan with him…

right2bright on July 19, 2010 at 6:46 AM

Paul Dorr came to our town to help defeat a school bond issue for a 15 million dollar gymnasium. Our town is shrinking in population, (less than 2000 people) sports is the educational drug of choice and gpa’s have dropped considerably. The bond went through but only by about 100 votes. The people on the side of the new gym used the argument that Dorr was denied a CCP to discredit him. He is not only an opponent of abortion but also a strong advocate for home schooling. Lightning rods both ways for the liberal progressives.

serenity on July 19, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Dorr does have a record, but for nonviolent protests related to his political activities. None of the laws broken were serious, involving trespassing and blocking access to abortion facilities.

So trespassing and blocking access to abortion facilities is not “serious” lawbreaking, but standing around with a nightstick (while not actually intimidating any voters) should literally be made into a federal case. Nice.

orange on July 19, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Nice to see a judge who gets it. We need a lot more like him.

infidel4life on July 19, 2010 at 4:40 PM