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Tipsheet

DOJ Asks Supreme Court to Fast-Track Review of Domestic Violence Gun Law

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File

On Friday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Supreme Court to fast-track its consideration of an appeals court ruling that deemed a federal law banning those under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms as unconstitutional.

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In the petition to the Supreme Court, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar urged the Court to review the case on a “highly expedited schedule” before it recesses for the summer. 

"More than a million acts of domestic violence occur in the United States every year, and the presence of a firearm increases the chance that violence will escalate to homicide," the petition filed with the Supreme Court of the United States said before ripping the Appeals Court’s ruling.

“The court overlooked the strong historical evidence supporting the general principle that the government may disarm dangerous individuals,” the petition said. It added that the Fifth Circuit’s “reasoning was wrong” in its decision and that other laws have disarmed “those who posed threats to identified victims.” In addition, the petition said “the Fifth Circuit was wrong to suggest that the government cannot disarm dangerous individuals who have not yet been convicted of crimes. As the laws discussed above show, legislatures have long disarmed ‘dangerous people who have not been convicted of felonies.’”

According to The Hill, the case surrounds Zackey Rahimi, who pleaded guilty to charges based on the federal gun provision while under a restraining order from his former girlfriend. He filed an appeal after the Supreme Court’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling last June.

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“More fundamentally, the Fifth Circuit’s mode of analysis was flawed,” Prelonger wrote in the petition. “This Court’s review also is warranted because the Fifth Circuit’s decision in this case conflicts with two court of appeals decisions that predated Bruen but that remain good law today.”

In February, the 5th U.S. The Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal gun law was unconstitutional. This decision cited Bruen, which struck down an unconstitutional gun control law in New York that required those seeking a gun permit to show “proper cause” to obtain one.

In the Bruen ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, pointing out that the right to bear arms should not be subject to a different set of rules apart from the other rights detailed in the Bill of Rights.

The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self defense. 

New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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Since then, lower courts have protected the right to bear arms, citing the Supreme Court’s decision.

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