Pour vous cette dernière actu : SCOTUS chief justice calls out lawyers’ ‘dangerous’ client in gun case


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Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts called out lawyer Matthew Wright’s client as « a dangerous person » in oral arguments on Tuesday.

The hearing is to decide whether a 1994 statute that denies a right to own firearms for people with domestic violence protective orders was constitutional and appeared to hinge on the definition of dangerousness.

The case in question stems from a ruling earlier this year by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that judged that a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who was found guilty of gun possession when he had a domestic violence protective order issued against him, had his second amendment rights under the constitution violated. The Biden administration disagreed with the ruling and appealed to the Supreme Court to uphold the statute.

Research has found that access to a gun increases the risk of killings in domestic violence cases. « American women are killed by intimate partners (husbands, lovers, ex-husbands, or ex-lovers) more often than by any other type of perpetrator. Intimate partner homicide accounts for approximately 40% to 50% of US femicides but a relatively small proportion of male homicides (5.9%), » according to the Department of Justice.

« You don’t have any doubt that your client’s a dangerous person, do you? » Chief Justice Roberts posed to Wright.

« Your Honor, I would want to know what ‘dangerous person’ means at the moment, » Wright replied.

« Well, it means someone who’s shooting, you know, at people. That’s a good start, » Robert said, which prompted laughter in the court.

Rahimi was involved in five shootings between December 2020 and January 2021, according to a filing by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

At stake in the case was « the life and death » of domestic violence victims, said Nick Suplina, senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety.

« The court could, overnight, put those folks in peril if they uphold the decision and put guns back in the hands of domestic abusers, » he told Newsweek.

Women in a domestic violence situation are five times more likely to be killed if there’s a gun present, he pointed out. « That is what is at stake, the lives of people who are already in incredibly difficult circumstances, » Suplina said.

Domestic violence survivor La’Shea Cretain, who was at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, was « humbled » to stand with other survivors at the hearing Tuesday that will decide whether people with domestic violence protective orders against them have the right to own firearms.

« Now it was time for the Supreme Court to stand with us too, » Cretain said in a statement to Newsweek. « I feel hopeful that they will. »

Gun Rights & ‘Dangerousness’

At the hearing on Tuesday, the question seemed to revolve around whether an individual can be deemed dangerous enough that the government can deny him the right to bear arms, as stipulated by a law Congress passed in 1994 to protect domestic violence victims.

Elizabeth Prelogar, the Solicitor General who represented the government’s case, argued that the « history and tradition » of the Second Amendment has shown that lawmakers can strip gun owners of their rights to own firearms if they are deemed to be dangerous and domestic abusers fit that category.

« Guns and domestic abuse are a deadly combination. As this Court has said, all too often, the only difference between a battered woman and a dead woman is the presence of a gun, » Prelogar told the justices. « Armed abusers also pose grave danger to police officers responding to domestic violence calls and to the public at large, as Zackey Rahimi’s own conduct shows, » she added referring to the respondent in the original case.

supreme court
An activist holds up a sign that read « Protect Survivors » outside U.S. Supreme Court during a gun-control rally on November 7, 2023, in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court heard arguments on a case about whether domestic violence offenders are protected by the Second Amendment to own guns.

The 1994 statute was meant to target the most dangerous domestic abusers and « the disarmament lasts only as long as the order remains in effect, » she said.

Suplina told Newsweek that the Solicitor General tried to focus the Justices on the specifics of the case at hand.

« She was making a history-based argument that a person who is deemed to be dangerous can have their firearms, » Suplina said.

Wright, the lawyer who represented the respondent, was asked by Justice Samuel Alito whether it was constitutional if someone was stripped of his gun because they « repeatedly threatened to shoot the members of his family, has brandished the gun, has terrified them. »

Wright said: « I think the answer is probably yes if he—I think it probably is. I would want to know more about what the historical tradition showed, but, certainly, courts have always had broad power against the people who are brought before them. »

The difference, for Wright, seemed to rest on criminalization and dangerousness.

« So are you suggesting, if there’s a sufficient showing of dangerousness, that can be a basis for disarming even with respect to possession in the home? » Chief Justice Roberts asked.

« I have yet to see a historical example of that applied against a citizen. And it would certainly be a last resort type of situation, » Wright replied.

Wright’s suggestion that « a last type resort » situation of the government taking a firearm away may be deemed constitutional, attracted Justice Elena Kagan’s suggestion that the lawyer was contradicting himself.

« I thought you said there’s no history of any kind of ban for anything that doesn’t
relate to felonies, » Kagan said.

Wright responded by saying that he had not found a historical example of that but added that it may stem from « the rights of the government to literally protect someone from imminent danger to life and limb. »

« There are examples, some of the early justice of the peace manuals that talk about, if you see someone who is on the way to commit a crime with a weapon, you can take the weapon away from them and you don’t have to institute proceedings immediately, » Wright added.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett interjected after this answer.

« I’m so confused, because I thought your argument was that there was no history or tradition, » she said. « But now it kind of sounds like your objection is just to the process. »

Justice Roberts later asked Wright, if accepted, if there would be circumstances where someone could be shown to be sufficiently dangerous that the firearm can be taken.

Wright said yes.

« And why isn’t that the end of the case? » Roberts asked. « All you need to do is show that there are circumstances in which the statute can be constitutionally applied. »

Wright appeared to make a distinction between bans by legislators and ones decided in specific moments of imminent danger.

« In the same way that if the police see that someone has, you know, suicidal, they have reason to believe they’re suicidal, of course, the police can go and take the firearm away from them. They can’t keep it forever and they can’t put somebody in prison for 10 years, » he argued.

Wright’s apparent concession of there being circumstances in which a firearm may be taken away from someone deemed dangerous left an opening for the Solicitor General.

« I think I heard my friend to concede today that those kinds of individualized findings of dangerousness do suffice for disarmament, » Prelogar said in her rebuttal. She suggested that his issue was a procedural one related to a due process issue.

For Suplina, the hearing on Tuesday led to what appeared to be an emerging consensus among the Justices on the question of dangerousness.

« The fact that there’s consensus around that means there are limitations to how far the court will go in its expansion of the second amendment right and that was a pleasant surprise, » he told Newsweek.

The ruling on the case is expected to come in the summer of 2024.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Bibliographie :

Astérix/Assurancetourix, le barde,Clicker Ici .

Histoire de l’Europe/Les Carolingiens,(la couverture) .

Presse-justice : liaisons dangereuses,Clicker Ici .