United States v. Rahimi

United States v. Rahimi focused on the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), a federal law prohibiting individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. Zackey Rahimi, who was under such an order, challenged the statute, claiming it infringed upon his Second Amendment rights. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals initially agreed with Rahimi, asserting that the law lacked a historical precedent as mandated by the Supreme Court’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision.

Overview of the Decision

On June 21, 2024, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of upholding 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, clarified that the “historical tradition” test from Bruen should not be interpreted rigidly. Instead, courts should consider whether historical regulations were “relevantly similar” to modern laws. The decision emphasized that historical laws aimed at disarming individuals who posed threats of violence align with the modern statute’s purpose of protecting individuals from domestic violence.

Impact on Prosecutors

  1. Reaffirmation of Protective Measures: The Supreme Court’s decision reinforces the legal authority to disarm individuals who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders. This supports efforts to protect victims of domestic violence by limiting the potential for further harm.
  2. Guidance on Historical Tradition Test: The decision provides clearer guidance on applying the “historical tradition” test from Bruen. Prosecutors can rely on this precedent when defending similar regulations, knowing that courts can look for historical analogues rather than exact historical twins.
  3. Strengthening Victim Protection: By upholding the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), the ruling ensures that prosecutors have a robust tool to prevent domestic abusers from possessing firearms, thereby enhancing the safety of victims and potentially reducing incidents of domestic violence.

Learn more about other recent Supreme Court decisions: Smith v. Arizona and City of Grants Pass v. Johnson

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