Ontonagon man gains support of attorney general in foster case

 

November 30, 2017



By JAN TUCKER

jantuck@jamadots.com

Ontonagon — William Johnson, of Ontonagon, scored a significant first victory in his lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on the basis of the right of foster parents to have guns in their homes.

Johnson claimed the department denied his right to become a foster parent to his grandson because he has guns in his home. Johnson said the department had specifically rejected his application on that basis.

The victory in the first skirmish came Wednesday when Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette reversed a previous statement and supported Johnson’s Second Amendment right.

In the brief submitted by Schuette it give a nod to the Department of Health and Human Services by writing, “The department made what it believed was a reasonable policy choice about how best to keep and bear firearms. But the Second Amendment takes that policy choice out of the hands of government officials and instead entrusts it to ‘the people’ (Heller, 554 U.S. at 634).”


He continues, “The people to whom (the) state entrusts the care of its most vulnerable children deserve no less constitutional protection than the average, law abiding citizen.”

“In sum, in its defense of the rule, the department falls far short of what is required to affirmatively establish the reasonable fit the Supreme Court requires. Absent sufficient empirical evidence that restrictive storage laws will advance its interest in foster child safety, the rule cannot survive even intermediate scrutiny, especially considering the evidence suggesting that the rule makes foster parents and foster children less safe. The rule therefore fails under intermediate scrutiny.”

Johnson said he was “shocked and pleased” when he received the statement by the attorney general. He added the next step comes today in a hearing before Judge Paul Maloney. “He could do several things,” Johnson said. “He could say the case is settled in Johnson’s favor, because of the attorney general’s statement, or DHHS could object and the case would go to a full hearing.”

 
 

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