On November 7, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court held an oral argument for United States v. Rahimi, a case that challenges the federal ban on gun possession by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order (DVRO).
Stephen Halbrook, an author and attorney who has argued cases before the Supreme Court, had the opportunity to attend the hearing for America’s 1st Freedom. As this could be an important ruling, he wrote a feature article for Freedom that traces the arguments on both sides, blow-by-blow.
In this video interview, he goes through what he heard at the hearing and discusses how this case could impact our Second Amendment-protected rights.
The backstory to this case is that the Supreme Court agreed to hear this case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit invalidated a DVRO law because a person is presumed to have Second Amendment rights. America has no historical tradition in the Founding Period of disarming persons on the basis of anything like a DVRO. Meeting that threshold is something the Supreme Court decided laws must do in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022).
The individual at the center of this case, Zackey Rahimi, is being separately prosecuted in Texas state court for threatening and discharging firearms at other people. Such laws are obviously constitutional, and indeed a purpose of the right to bear arms is self-defense against such violent crimes. But the issue here is a constitutional one.
At the Supreme Court hearing, arguing for the government, was Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, a former clerk to D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, and then to Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Matthew Wright, an attorney with the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Amarillo, Texas, argued on behalf of Rahimi.
The amicus brief of the National Rifle Association on this case summed up the issues here this way: “Rahimi should not only lose his Second Amendment liberties, but he should also lose all of his liberties—if the allegations against him are ultimately proven true with sufficient due process. But constitutional safeguards cannot be set aside to obtain those ends.”