United States v. Rahimi Upholds a Law Unarming Violent Abusers

On June 21, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a significant ruling in United States v. Rahimi (22-915), affirming the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), which restricts firearm possession by individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders. The decision came in an 8-1 vote, with Chief Justice Roberts writing the majority opinion and Justice Thomas dissenting.

The case centered on whether this statute infringes upon Second Amendment rights. The Court held that temporarily disarming individuals who pose a threat to the safety of others is consistent with the Second Amendment. This decision overturned the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, which had previously deemed the statute unconstitutional based on an interpretation that required historical precedents almost identical to the modern law.

Chief Justice Roberts emphasized that the restriction is a reasonable measure to protect potential victims of domestic violence, aligning with historical practices of disarming individuals deemed dangerous. This ruling reinforces the government’s ability to implement protective measures against gun violence, particularly in the context of domestic abuse​ (SCOTUSblog)​​ ({{meta.siteName}})​​ (Wikipedia)​.

Quoting from the majority opinion: “In short, we have no trouble concluding that Section 922(g)(8) survives Rahimi’s facial challenge. Our tradition of firearm regulation allows the Government to disarm individuals who present a credible threat to the physical safety of others. Section 922(g)(8) can be applied lawfully to Rahimi”.

The decision was broadly welcomed by advocacy groups, including the ACLU, which argued that such restrictions are crucial for the protection of domestic violence victims. They noted that without these laws, restraining orders would be significantly less effective, potentially endangering lives​ (American Civil Liberties Union)​​ (Cincy Law Blogs)​.

In the Supreme Court decision of United States v. Rahimi (22-915), the lone dissenter was Justice Clarence Thomas. He disagreed with the majority opinion, which upheld the federal law prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms​ (SCOTUSblog)​​ ({{meta.siteName}})​​ (Wikipedia)​.

For a more detailed discussion of this decision see: Adam Liptak, New York Times, June 21,2024

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