BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation today filed a federal lawsuit against the head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on behalf of four Michigan residents, alleging civil rights violations under color of law for enforcing restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of people who want to be foster or adoptive parents.
SAF is joined in the lawsuit by William and Jill Johnson and Brian and Naomi Mason. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, alleges that MDHHS caseworkers told Mr. Johnson, a 100-percent disabled Marine Corps veteran who sought custody of his grandson that he would have to give the agency the serial numbers of all of his firearms. When he questioned this, the caseworkers allegedly told him, “If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights.” This was after the state asked the Johnsons to be foster parents to their grandson.
Two weeks later, the lawsuit alleges, a Gogebic County Court judge told the Johnsons that if they wanted their grandson placed in their care, “We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home.”
“The statements from the caseworker and judge are simply outrageous,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “This amounts to coercion, with a child as their bartering chip. I cannot recall ever hearing anything so offensive and egregious, and we’ve handled cases like this in the past. Blatantly telling someone they must give up their civil rights in order to care for their own grandchild is simply beyond the pale.”
The lawsuit asserts that “the policy of the MDHHS, by implementing requirements and restrictions that are actually functional bans on the bearing of firearms for self-defense, both in and out of the home, completely prohibits foster and adoptive parents, and those who would be foster or adoptive parents, from the possession and bearing of readily-available firearms for the purpose of self-defense. This violates Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”
The Johnsons and Masons reside in Ontanogan, a small community on the north shore of the Upper Peninsula, on Lake Superior. Mr. Mason has been the Pastor at the Ontonagon Baptist Church in Ontonagon for nine years. He is also the Chair of the Ontonagon County Department of Health and Human Services Board.
“This is a case we simply must pursue,” Gottlieb said. “State agencies and the people who work in those agencies simply cannot be allowed to disregard someone’s civil rights.”