Keep Calm and Understand United States v. Rahimi

On February 2, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (covering Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi) issued its decision in United States v. Rahimi, 59 F.4th 163 (5th Cir. 2023). The Court ruled that 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), which prohibits gun possession by people who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders, is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. On June 30, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the government’s petition for a writ of certiorari in the case. If upheld, Rahimi will have a significant impact on the assignment and enforcement of domestic violence protection orders across the country.

This Strategies Newsletter unpacks the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Rahimi, as well as the Second Amendment jurisprudence that preceded it. It provides strategies for Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi prosecutors currently facing the fallout of the Rahimi decision in the courtroom. It also provides prosecutors from other jurisdictions with ways to rebut defense attorneys’ Rahimi-based arguments. While this decision may seem to be a catastrophic development for victims of domestic violence, a careful review of the Supreme Court precedent on which the Rahimi decision was based will allow prosecutors to better anticipate defense arguments and implement strategies to ensure the continued protection of victims.United States v. Rahimi, No 22-915, United States Supreme Court, Brief of AEquitas as Amicus Curiae in Support of Petitioner