DOJ calls for expedited Supreme Court review of ruling against gun ban for people with domestic violence restraining orders


On Friday, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to expedite a review of a recent appeals court ruling that found unconstitutional a federal law prohibiting the possession of firearms by people doing the job. object of restraining orders for domestic violence.

“The presence of a firearm in a home with a domestic abuser increases the risk of homicide six-fold,” US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in her petition on Friday, urging the High Court to decide before the holiday. was to take up the case.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that the 1996 law was unconstitutional, and while the ruling only applies to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, lawyers fear that it does not have broad implications, including that it will discourage victims from coming forward.

The circuit court cited the landmark Second Amendment ruling by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority last year that established a new test for lower courts to use when analyzing the constitutionality of a gun regulation .

Prelogar told the Supreme Court on Friday that the 5th Circuit’s reasoning was flawed and that the high court should take up the case so “it can correct the Fifth Circuit’s misinterpretation of Bruen,” referring to the opinion of the Supreme Court last summer.

The High Court’s majority opinion in June said part of the test was whether a firearms restriction had a parallel to regulations in place at the time the Constitution was drawn up.

The 5th Circuit said, with its domestic violence gun restriction advisory earlier this year, that the ban on alleged abusers lacked that kind of historical parallel and was therefore unconstitutional.

If “the 5th Circuit approach were applied at all levels,” writes Prelogar, “few modern laws would survive judicial review; most modern gun regulations, after all, differ from their historical ancestors in at least some respects.

At the time of the circuit court decision, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that Congress determined the gun ban law “nearly 30 years ago” and flagged the department’s plan. to appeal the decision.

“Whether analyzed through the lens of Supreme Court precedent or the text, history and tradition of the Second Amendment, this law is constitutional. Accordingly, the Department will seek further review of the Fifth Circuit’s contrary ruling,” he said.

Guns are used to commit nearly two-thirds of intimate partner homicides, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. A 2021 study found that the majority of mass shootings are also related to domestic violence.

Although some of the states covered by the appeals court have similar legal restrictions, the new ruling undermines a crucial tool survivors have to protect themselves from their abusers. If the logic of the 5th Circuit were adopted nationwide by the U.S. Supreme Court, the consequences would be devastating, advocates say.

“People are going to know that their attacker still has his gun. They will continue to live in absolute and abject fear,” said Heather Bellino, CEO of the Texas Advocacy Project, which works with victims of domestic violence. “They’re going to be scared to get a protective order, because now this gun isn’t going away.”


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