Nordyke v. King

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Nordyke v. King is a case challenging an effective ban on gun shows on county property by the county of Alameda. While the case was originally about gun shows on county property, it may now play a crucial role in defining the standard of review for scrutinizing other laws facing second amendment challenges.

Alan M. Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President had this to say about the Nordyke case:

“This is a very important case, because it could establish the highest standard of scrutiny to which 
gun laws around the country would be subjected. While gun prohibitionists were upset by the 2008 Heller 
ruling and demoralized by our victory this year in the McDonald case, they are terrified of a strict 
scrutiny standard that could be established by the Nordyke case.” -SAF News Release 8/19/2010


* Amicus Brief of the CRPA Foundation;
* Amicus Brief of the NRA;
* Amicus Brief of the Calguns Foundation;
* Brief on behalf of the Nordykes;
* Amicus Brief of LCAV;
* Amicus Brief of SAF;
* Amicus Brief of Gun Owners of California, Inc.;
* Brief on behalf of the County of Alameda
* Amicus Brief of Brady Center
  • August 17, 2010 - CRPAF files a brief. (C.D. Michel) would appreciate it if you would register there so you may receive updates in the future.
  • July 12, 2010 - 9th Circuit en banc panel files an order stating
The panel opinion in Nordyke v. King, 563 F.3d 439 (9th Cir. 2009), is 
vacated and the case is remanded to that panel for further consideration
in light of McDonald v. City of Chicago, No. 08-1521, slip op. (U.S.
June 28, 2010).
  • July 9, 2010 - Don Kilmer files a "28J" letter with 9th Circuit asking that the McDonald decision be considered in the en banc proceeding.
  • September 24, 2009 - The en banc panel heard oral arguments in the morning. Later in the afternoon, the panel vacated the submission, effectively deferring to SCOTUS for a resolution of McDonald v. City of Chicago.
  • September 14,2009 - The en banc panel has been set: Chief Judge Kozinski, Pregerson, Reinhardt, O'Scannlain, Rymer, Hawkins, Graber, Gould, Tallman, M. Smith, Ikuta.
  • August 21, 2009 - Oral argument set for 10:00 am Thursday, September 24, in Courtroom One at the James R. Browning Courthouse, located at 95 Seventh Street in San Francisco, California.
  • July 29, 2009 - Judge Kozinski filed an order that the case will be heard en banc. Oral argument to be the week of September 21, 2009. Further status from the 9th Circuit at this link.
  • June 8, 2009 - Alameda files its en banc brief.
  • May 18, 2009 - Late the afternoon of Monday May 18th, the 9th Circuit informed all parties in Nordyke that a judge of the 9th Circuit has has called for a vote to determine whether the case will be reheard en banc.

Calguns discussions

Commentary and Analysis


Incorporation was achieved through the 2010 landmark Supreme Court case McDonald v. Chicago, where the court incorporated the right through the Due Process Clause. Prior to the Supreme court answering the incorporation question, the Ninth Circuit court of appeals also found that the second amendment was incorporated. For more information see the April 20, 2009 Opinion section below.


In August 1999, Alameda County passed an ordinance making illegal the possession of firearms on County property. In pertinent part, the Ordinance reads: “Every person who brings onto or possesses on county property a firearm, loaded or unloaded, or ammunition for a firearm is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Alameda County, Cal., Ordinance § 9.12.120(b). The Ordinance would forbid the presence of firearms at gun shows held at the Fairgrounds. As a practical matter, the Ordinance makes it unlikely that a gun show could profitably be held there.

Russ and Sallie Nordyke who own the TS Trade Show and various gun rights supporters represented by Don Kilmer filed suit against the County of Alameda alleging that Alameda's Ordinance was preempted by state law and violated various of their First Amendment rights.

Preliminary Injuction

The Nordykes moved for a temporary injunction to allow their shows to go on at the District Court level in front of Judge Jenkins. Jenkins sua sponte introduced the Second Amendment, treated the motion for temporary injunction as one for a permanent injunction and then denied that motion. The Nordykes filed an interlocutory appeal of that denial.

Question Certified to the California Supreme Court

The Ninth Circuit Court of appeals panel consisting of Alarcón, O’Scannlain and Gould certified the preemption question to the California Supreme Court. In April 2002, the California Supreme Court ruled in Nordyke v. King 44 P.3d 133, 138 (Cal. 2002) that state law did not preempt cities and counties from banning gun shows on their property.

Appeal after the Certified Question

The Ninth Circuit panel then turned to the merits of the Nordyke's First and Second Amendment claims. The panel held that on motion for permanent injunction, the Nordykes did not prevail in their first amendment claims. The court also rejected Nordyke's Second Amendment claims citing binding precedent from Hickman that only states have standing to bring Second Amendment claims. However, the panel strongly suggested (and Gould's concurrence stated plainly) that it did not believe that the previous Second Amendment rulings in Hickman and Silveira were good law. The case returned to Judge Jenkins.

District Court Ruling on the Merits

At the district court the Nordykes recast their argument from a facial challenge under the First Amendment to an as applied challenge. In April of 2007, Judge Jenkins ruled against the Nordykes holding that the ordinance was not specifically targeted at speech and therefor passed rational basis scrutiny.

Appeal of the Merits Ruling

The Nordykes have appealed the ruling of the District Court. Judge Jenkins has since left the Federal Courts for a state appellate appointment. The Nordykes and Alameda County filed motions for supplemental briefing on the Second Amendment questions in light of Heller. On July 18th it became clear that the original panel of Alarcón, O’Scannlain and Gould would retain jurisdiction in the case. Briefings on the Second Amendment Incorporation issues were filed September 11, 2008 (Nordyke and Alameda) and reply briefs from both sides were filed October 2, 2008 (Nordyke, Alameda.) Amicus Briefs filed include Second Amendment Foundation, NRA/CPRA, Pro-Incorporation Law Professors, and Various Pro-Incorporation Professors. Alameda's amici filed a joint brief. Oral argument was Thursday January 15, 2009. C-SPAN's recording of the arguments is available here. A transcript of the oral arguments is available here.

April 20, 2009 Opinion

The full opinion is posted.

Preliminary summary

  • the ordinance is upheld; the Nordykes may not hold gunshows on County property in violation of the ordinance
  • the Second Amendment is incorporated against states and local governments, but the ordinance does not violate the protections the amendment affords.

Commentary on the April 20 Opinion



Law professor Eugene Volokh

Note that at this early date, the Nordykes have not decided whether they will appeal.

The Future of the Case

  • The Opinion was 3-0; Alameda 'won' on the ordinance.
  • The Ninth Circuit will hear the case en banc.[1]

9th Circuit Judge Calls for En Banc Briefing

Neither side chose to appeal this case en banc. However, on May 18, 2009 an anonymous Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals called for briefing from both sides on whether the case should go en banc.

On June 8, 2009 all 27 judges in the Ninth Circuit received a copy of the briefing for rehearing En Banc from both sides.

In cases where rehearing En Banc is granted, the Ninth Circuit will usually (but not always) request new briefing and set oral arguments. That process takes about 90 days from filing to oral arguments. Then there is a longer wait for the En Banc opinion. (Don Kilmer's last En Banc had oral arguments the morning Heller was released and the opinion came out 8+ months later (June 26, 2008 to March, 2009).

Once things are final in the ninth circuit, The Nordykes have approximately 90 days to file for certiorari with the Supreme Court. However, the Nordyke opinion remains the law of the Circuit unless and until SCOTUS grants cert.

The Nordykes have filed their en banc brief and a 28(j) letter discussing the 7th Circuit's ruling in NRA & McDonald v. Chicago. NRA filed an amicus brief in the en banc briefing on June 9, 2009.


  • It appears from the General Orders that once the parties file briefs on June 8, the Court has 21 days to issue memos internally. Once that 21 days expires, there are 14 days of voting. Therefore, the outcome of the En Banc vote was expected by July 13, although it actuially was not issued until July 29.
  • Because En Banc was granted, it is grant day plus about 90 days to oral arguments (October, 2009) and as much as 9 months after oral argument - approximately July 2010.

External links