On Wednesday, October 4, 2023, America’s Future filed an Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in United States v Rahimi, SCOTUS Dkt. No. 22-915. The public docket in this case is located here. America’s Future and eight other nonprofits jointly filed the Amicus brief in support of the respondent, Mr. Rahimi, and his Second Amendment rights. Following the SCOTUS’ grant of a writ of certiorari to the petitioner, United States, the following question is expected to be resolved,
Whether 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), [a federal firearms law] which prohibits the possession of firearms by persons subject to domestic-violence restraining orders, violates the Second Amendment on its face?
On background, Mr. Rahimi was subject to a domestic violence civil court order that prohibited him from contacting the opposing party for a two-year period. The court order was entered into by agreement of both parties. The agreed-upon domestic violence civil court order triggered 18 U.S.C §922(g)(8), which prohibits any person who is the subject of a domestic violence order from possessing a firearm. Thus, the civil court order, which was based on an unproven allegation of abuse, directly impaled his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Subsequently and during the two-year period the order was in place, Mr. Rahimi was charged by law enforcement with felony firearm possession, and eventually convicted of one felony firearm offense.
As noted in our brief, the United States petitioned the SCOTUS following a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judgment vacating Mr. Rahmini’s conviction based on the recent landmark Second Amendment SCOTUS decision, NY Rifle & Pistol Assn v Bruen (2022), in which the ruling instructed all lower courts to determine Second Amendment cases based solely upon the text of the Second Amendment and nothing else.
In Bruen, Justice Thomas writing for the majority, explained, “Today, we decline to adopt that two-part approach…. Despite the popularity of this two-step approach, it is one step too many….” he went on, “the test that the Court sets forth…requires courts to assess whether modern firearms regulations is consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding [and nothing more].”
United States v Rahimi could, very well, have far-reaching effects across the country, touching and concerning the daily lives of untold tens of thousands of Americans who are subject to civil protective orders, which are issued, as explained in the brief, “based on all manner of marital or relational discord.” The case could also determine whether Bruen will remain a broad and powerful Second Amendment protection against government infringement of our right to bear arms, or whether the scope and breadth of Bruen are destined to be limited on a case-by-case basis, perhaps to the point that the exceptions swallow the rule.
The federal government’s argument stands for the notion that any person it “deems dangerous” is, therefore, dangerous, and as a consequence, the government should be allowed to exercise dominion over that person.
Our brief flips the script and explains that the federal government’s argument is exactly contrary to the Constitution and its broad protections of God-given rights, stating,
“[T]he Second Amendment was designed specifically to limit the power of government to deem persons too dangerous or untrustworthy to enjoy basic civil liberties…the discrimination that early (or even more modern) dangerousness laws sanctioned — whether based on race, religion, political affiliation, loyalty, perceived dangerousness, or otherwise — is at odds with the Constitution adopted by the Framers. Indeed, even when this country flirted with such laws again after the Civil War, additional constitutional amendments were soon ratified to correct the abuses.”
The SCOTUS should affirm the Fifth Circuit’s judgment and safeguard Americans’ Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.