Manatt has filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Rahimi on behalf of the New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) urging the Supreme Court to reverse a Fifth Circuit opinion striking down a federal law banning a person subject to a court-ordered domestic violence restraining order from possessing a firearm.
Manatt previously filed an amicus brief for NYCLA, one of the largest and most influential county bar associations in the country, in April supporting the cert petition in this case.
United States v. Rahimi arises from the indictment of Rahimi for violating 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), the law prohibiting domestic violence abusers from possessing a firearm. Rahimi unsuccessfully sought to dismiss the indictment, arguing that Section 922(g)(8) violated the Second Amendment. After the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas denied his motion, Rahimi appealed to the Fifth Circuit.
After initially ruling against Rahimi’s, the Fifth Circuit reversed itself and the district court in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The Fifth Circuit struck down Section 922(g)(8) as unconstitutional, concluding that there was no historical precedent for regulating the ability of domestic abusers to possess firearms and hence, under Bruen, the statute was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in July.
In NYCLA’s amicus brief, Manatt argues that Section 922(g)(8) provides important protections for families and domestic violence survivors by restricting abusers’ access to firearms at both the federal and local levels.
“If the Fifth Circuit’s decision stands, state and local governments might be deprived of important tools that have been used successfully to protect their most vulnerable residents: victims of domestic abuse,” Manatt and NYCLA wrote in the brief. “It is imperative to limit the ability of domestic abusers to possess firearms, because, quite simply, such restrictions save lives.”
The brief argues the Fifth Circuit incorrectly ruled there was no historical precedent for regulating domestic abusers’ ability to possess firearms, citing the Supreme Court’s own language in District of Columbia v. Heller and Bruen that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is restricted to “law-abiding, responsible citizens.”
Further adding to historical precedent, New York City’s firearms licensing regime, in place since at least 1911, requires applicants to undergo a background check that, among other things, checks for domestic violence and orders of protection, history of convictions and arrests, and other conditions that would make the applicant too dangerous to possess a firearm. Additionally, New York State’s Family Court Act first prohibited domestic abusers from possessing firearms in 1996.
Striking down Section 922(g)(8) could put these and other protections for domestic violence victims at well-documented risk, the brief argues, citing that the risk of homicide in a domestic violence situation increases by 500% when a firearm is present and that more than 70 women are shot to death every month by intimate partners in the United States.
“The evidence is clear: Where domestic abusers have less access to firearms, their victims are less likely to be murdered,” the brief said.
The Manatt team was comprised of Partners Jacqueline Wolff, Benjamin Shatz, Samantha Katze and Sarah Moses as well as Associates Tina Lapsia and Carolyn Sharzer.
Read the full brief here and learn more about the case here.