DOJ petitions Supreme Court to review 5th Circuit’s domestic violence gun ruling

Merrick Garland
Merrick Garland. (AP photo)

DOJ petitions Supreme Court to review 5th Circuit’s domestic violence gun ruling

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The Justice Department requested the Supreme Court overturn an appeals court decision that struck down a federal law that blocks firearm possession for those under domestic violence restraining orders.

Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit cited the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year that required firearm laws be “consistent” with the nation’s historical tradition of regulation.


“That holding was profoundly mistaken,” DOJ attorneys argued in an 82-page petition, urging the justices to take quick action against the February ruling.

“Governments have long disarmed individuals who pose a threat to the safety of others … The Fifth Circuit’s contrary decision misapplies this Court’s precedents, conflicts with the decisions of other courts of appeals, and threatens grave harms for victims of domestic violence,” the petition reads.

Since the appeals court decision that was determined by a three-judge panel, the Biden administration has gone on the offensive against the court’s landmark gun precedent in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Congress determined that a person who is subject to a court order that restrains him or her from threatening an intimate partner or child cannot lawfully possess a firearm,” Attorney General Merrick Garland wrote in a statement after the 5th Circuit decision, implying the court doesn’t have the ability to override a congressional statute.

The three-judge panel also disputed claims that any “societal benefits” outweighed its burden to acknowledge the Second Amendment rights of the defendant in the case.

“But Bruen forecloses any such analysis in favor of a historical analogical inquiry into the scope of the allowable burden on the Second Amendment right,” the appeals court wrote.

Through its decision, the appeals court vacated the conviction of Zackey Rahimi, who previously pleaded guilty to possessing firearms while under a civil protective order that banned him from harassing, stalking, or threatening his ex-girlfriend and their child and also banned him from having guns.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), held a hearing in which several witnesses claimed the Bruen decision caused calamity for the states’ gun control laws.

Ruth Glenn with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence attended the hearing and directed scrutiny at the 5th Circuit’s decision, which affects Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana.

“The lack of historical laws restricting firearms access by domestic abusers is not evidence that such laws are unconstitutional,” Glenn said. “Rather, it is a reflection of the legally subordinate status and general disregard for the rights and needs of women in early America.”

One day after the hearing, Republicans on the committee introduced legislation known as the Respect for the Second Amendment Act to codify Bruen and other landmark Supreme Court gun decisions.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said he believes some Democrats could back the codification bill, arguing “there’s some Democrats who’ve been supportive of the Second Amendment [and] there are a bunch of Democrats who voted against banning assault weapons.”


Graham voiced opposition against continuing to “pass regulations on law-abiding citizens,” arguing there is a more systemic problem of violent offenders being given shorter sentences in some metropolitan jurisdictions across the country.

“This revolving door situation needs to stop. So the bottom line, I think we need to have a vote on this bill,” Graham added.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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