DOJ seeks fast-track Supreme Court review of ruling against gun ban for people under domestic violence restraining orders


The Justice Division on Friday requested the Supreme Court docket to fast-track its consideration of a current appeals courtroom ruling that deemed unconstitutional a federal regulation barring gun possession by these below home violence restraining orders.

“The presence of a gun in a home with a home abuser will increase the danger of murder sixfold,” US Solicitor Normal Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in her petition Friday, urging the excessive courtroom to determine earlier than its summer season recess whether or not to take up the case.

The fifth US Circuit Court docket of Appeals mentioned in February that the 1996 regulation was unconstitutional, and whereas the ruling applies solely to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, advocates fear it’ll have broad implications, together with that it’ll discourage victims from coming ahead.

The circuit courtroom cited the main Second Modification ruling handed down by the Supreme Court docket’s conservative majority final yr that laid out a brand new check for decrease courts to make use of to research a gun regulation’s constitutionality.

Prelogar advised the Supreme Court docket on Friday that the fifth Circuit’s reasoning was improper and the excessive courtroom ought to take up the case so “that it might probably right the Fifth Circuit’s misinterpretation of Bruen,” referring to final summer season’s Supreme Court docket opinion.

The excessive courtroom’s majority opinion in June mentioned that a part of the check was whether or not a gun restriction had a parallel to the rules in place on the time of the Structure’s framing.

The fifth Circuit mentioned, with its opinion relating to the home violence gun restriction earlier this yr, that the prohibition on alleged abusers lacked that type of historic parallel and due to this fact was unconstitutional.

If the fifth Circuit’s “strategy had been utilized throughout the board,” Prelogar wrote, “few trendy statutes would survive judicial evaluate; most trendy gun rules, in spite of everything, differ from their historic forbears in at the very least some methods.”

On the time of the circuit courtroom ruling, Lawyer Normal Merrick Garland mentioned in an announcement that Congress had decided the gun ban statute “almost 30 years in the past” and signaled the division’s plan to attraction the ruling.

“Whether or not analyzed via the lens of Supreme Court docket precedent, or of the textual content, historical past, and custom of the Second Modification, that statute is constitutional. Accordingly, the Division will search additional evaluate of the Fifth Circuit’s opposite determination,” he mentioned.

Weapons are used to commit almost two-thirds of intimate accomplice homicides, the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has mentioned. A 2021 examine discovered that almost all of mass shootings are additionally linked to home violence.

Although a few of the states coated by the appeals courtroom have related state regulation restrictions, the brand new ruling undermines an important software that survivors have to guard themselves from their abusers. If the fifth Circuit’s logic had been adopted nationwide by the US Supreme Court docket, the results can be devastating, advocates say.

“Persons are going to know that their abuser nonetheless has their gun. They’re going to proceed to reside in absolute, abject concern,” mentioned Heather Bellino, the CEO of the Texas Advocacy Undertaking, which works with victims of home violence. “They’ll be afraid to get a protecting order, as a result of now that gun’s not going away.”