(The Center Square) – A federal judge told the state he is not interested in delaying a challenge to Illinois’ gun ban so government lawyers can figure out what the state legislature passed.
Illinois enacted a ban on more than 170 semi-automatic firearms, certain capacities of magazines and attachments in January 2023. Shortly after, a series of lawsuits were filed. Several were consolidated in the Southern District of Illinois. In April, federal Judge Stephen McGlynn issued a preliminary injunction as the case played out. That was later stayed by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which eventually ruled the state had a likelihood of winning on the merits.
While gun ban challenges in the Northern District of Illinois federal court are on hold while plaintiffs there aim for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, last month McGlynn denied similar motions in the Southern District saying constitutional rights are allegedly violated and he wants to expeditiously address the merits of the case.
During a scheduling conference of the case Friday in the consolidated challenge Barnett v. Raoul in the Southern District of Illinois, McGlynn heard from litigants about how they plan to proceed on the merits.
“This is a very important matter,” McGlynn said Friday. “The claimants believe that their constitutional rights have been imperiled and so it’s the court’s belief that I should try to work through this with as much dispatch as possible, understanding that we want to get it right and whatever discovery needs to be exchanged can be exchanged, but also understanding that in these cases there isn’t a lot of prolonged and protected discovery.”
Just before Friday’s hearing, the state proposed wrapping up discovery on Nov. 30. That was after the plaintiffs suggested wrapping up discovery in July.
“I’m not interested in delaying this case for any length of time so that the government can figure out what they’ve passed in the legislation,” McGlynn said to the notion of discovery finishing up in late November.
Gun rights advocate Todd Vandermyde has been consulting for one of the plaintiffs groups. He said his takeaway is the judge knows the arguments and is ready to get started.
“He thinks that conditional rights are being violated, or at least that is in the pleading and therefore he wants to see a quick remedy on this to get it on and up,” Vandermyde told The Center Square.
The case had already gone up to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on preliminary motions, where the court sided with the state. McGlynn had previously said he wanted to address the merits of the case expeditiously.
Vandermyde said McGlynn had his finger on the pulse that the state passed a bad bill.
“And the government lawyers are playing catchup to try and understand the technicalities of how broad it is and I think he kind of pinned them on that,” Vandermyde said.
The state argued it needs to know what specifically plaintiffs are challenging and what standing it has. Vandermyde said that’s a stretch.
“It sounds like they want us to provide 200 plaintiffs and go through ‘I want to buy one of these and now I can’t,’ through that entire list of firearms,” Vandermyde said.
The plaintiffs are directed to file by Tuesday which attorneys they select as their representative to interact with the court on the scope and timeline for the case.