Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Second Amendment Case of US v. Rahimi

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A panoramic image of the US Supreme Court building.
A panoramic image of the US Supreme Court building.

The Supreme Court has granted a writ of certiorari to a significant Second Amendment-related case, agreeing to hear the first such case since Bruen, last year. Read the petition for the writ of certiorari here.

The case, US v. Rahimi, addresses, “Whether 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), which prohibits the possession of firearms by persons subject to domestic-violence restraining orders, violates the Second Amendment on its face.”

Rahimi was issued a civil restraining order in 2020, after his ex-girlfriend accused him of assaulting her. During an investigation of an unrelated crime with a search warrant at his home, officers discovered a rifle and a pistol he admitted to possessing and he was charged and convicted of unlawful firearm possession under U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), which prohibits individuals from owning firearms if they are “subject to a court order that restrains [them] from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner.”

Rahimi filed suit and challenged the prohibition on his Second Amendment rights under the federal law.

The case was originally heard in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas (which rejected Rahimi’s challenges), and then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. That court initially upheld the challenged federal law, but subsequently withdrew its opinion after the Supreme Court issued Bruen. After parties filed supplementary briefs and re-argued the case before a new panel of three judges, the Fifth Circuit struck down the federal law as unconstitutional. The Justice Department filed its petition to the Supreme Court in March.

The Fifth Circuit decision includes some very interesting reasoning that centers around disarming victims of domestic violence.

“The net result of all this is profoundly perverse, because it means that § 922(g)(8) effectively disarms victims of domestic violence. What’s worse, victims of domestic violence may even be put in greater danger than before. Abusers may know or assume that their victims are law-abiding citizens who will comply with their legal obligation not to arm themselves in self-defense due to § 922(g)(8).”

Mark Smith, legal expert and author of YouTube channel Four Boxes Diner, suggests a challenged federal law being ruled as unconstitutional constitutes exactly the kind of case that the Supreme Court typically hears.

Further speculating, he said, “So now, what Merrick Garland is thinking is that there’s a good chance that the three liberals (Brown Jackson, Sotomajor and Kagan) are going to team up with a couple of “conservative justices” – if that’s what you want to call them – and somehow create five votes that’s going to dramatically cut back on the Heller/Bruen methodology to look at the text first, shift the burden to the government, and the government has to come forth with a historical analog law that justifies the gun control Act.”

It’s widely speculated that this case is not necessarily a good thing for gun control rights. The briefing schedule will be posted within the next week. We will continue to follow this story.

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