Reply: Some states have already turned to citizens to enforce the new laws.
A Missouri law that came into effect last week allows citizens to sue local law enforcement officials whose officers knowingly enforce federal gun laws. Police and Sheriff departments can face fines of up to $ 50,000 per occurrence. The law has been backed by Republicans who fear the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden will enact restrictive gun policies.
In Kansas, a new law sparked by frustration over coronavirus restrictions allows residents to file lawsuits challenging mask warrants and county-imposed limits on public gatherings. Last month, the Kansas Supreme Court allowed law enforcement while it considers an appeal from a lower court ruling that declared the law unconstitutional.
Utah also adopted a similar strategy against pornography last year, passing a law that allows citizens to sue websites that do not display warnings about the effects of “obscene material” on minors. Although adult entertainment groups have warned that this is a violation of free speech, many sites have complied with the law to avoid the expense of a possible legal attack.
Citizens bringing their own lawsuits have long been part of environmental and disability rights laws, said Travis Brandon, associate professor at Belmont University College of Law. Environmental groups, for example, help bring complaints against companies accused of violating federal pollution permits.
In California, Proposition 65 allows people who may have been exposed to potentially carcinogenic materials both to bring their own lawsuits and to receive some sort of “bounty” if they win. These laws are different, however, in that people generally have to show that they have been directly affected by a violation of the law, a feature missing from the new Texas measure, Brandon said.