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Rahimi Decision

Dear MSSA Friends,Much has been written about the recent SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) Rahimi decision.  I might as well add my two bits.  I have read the 8-1 decision, the several concurring opinions, the dissenting opinion by Justice Thomas, and many articles about the decision.

In Rahimi, SCOTUS was asked if the federal law is unconstitutional that disarms people because of domestic violence.


Rahimi was a very bad guy with a history of violence with firearms.  SCOTUS was never going to let Rahimi off the federal hook.  As the legal saying goes, bad cases (bad facts) make bad law (bad decisions).  Anti-gun US Attorney General Merrick Garland was counting on this and hoped this case would be decided in a way to erode the previous Bruen decision and allow much gun control under some new standard.  Fortunately, Garland didn’t get what he wanted in Rahimi and we (RKBA advocates) dodged a bullet.


The 8-1 Rahimi decision was very narrow in scope and pertained only to the exact fact set in the case.  That is, disarmament by law is only allowed if there is a court-determined finding that the subject is prone to violence and only if the disarmament is limited in time.


And maybe most important, SCOTUS is quite aware that too many inferior courts have been thumbing noses at SCOTUS when refusing to apply the important new standard for evaluating RKBA restrictions under the Bruen decision.  I’m sure that SCOTUS has been waiting for an opportunity to chastise rebellious inferior courts for ignoring the methodology required by Bruen – the text, history, and tradition standard of review rather than the old, replaced interest-balancing standard.

SCOTUS availed itself of the Rahimi opportunity to jerk the chain of lower courts on this issue.  Essentially, SCOTUS said that RKBA restrictions might just possibly be constitutional, but ONLY if a court gets to that approval by using the new Bruen methodology.  This came through so plainly in the Rahimi decision that even liberal lower court judges should be able to understand the mandate.  SCOTUS will hold lower courts’ feet to the fire with enforcing the Bruen evaluation standard for any RKBA restrictions.  This means that magazine bans and semi-auto bans are almost certainly DOA at SCOTUS.


There were some very useful admissions made by liberal justices in joining the Court’s primary decision, and also in concurring opinions by liberal justices.  These will be helpful in future Second Amendment cases at SCOTUS.

Finally, something stood out to me in this case about which I have not seen others comment.  That is the “concurring” (but nevertheless adverse) opinion by new, Biden-appointed Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.  In that opinion, Jackson comes across as what one would expect of a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) pick, whiney and weak for the task.

In her separate opinion

Jackson raises two related complaints.  The first is her recycled complaint that judges are not historians, so they cannot be expected to decide cases for which an examination of history is required.  Bull!  Judges are also not physicians or financiers, but they commonly umpire medical and financial cases.  It is the task of counsel for parties to the case to do relevant research, bring in experts, and present that to the court.  All a judge must do is read the briefs presented by counsel, not be a certified historian.

Second, Jackson complains that judges are too busy to dig into history to make correct decisions.  Again, they don’t have to become history professors.  They only need to read the briefs presented by counsel.  The attorneys representing the parties will do the heavy lifting of history research, based on actual historians’ work.  If counsels’ briefs don’t provide enough history, a judge can ask for further, specific briefing.  If a judge is unable to read the briefs, to do what he is paid for in order to protect the liberties of the people from government encroachment, he should resign and allow his replacement to get the necessary work done.

Jackson and her law clerks embarrass themselves and SCOTUS with the frivolous content of her opinion.

BTW, I agree with Justice Thomas in his lone dissent, that the historical analogs provided by the government are inadequate to justify the restrictions on the RKBA presented in Rahimi.  However, there is no way SCOTUS was going to let very bad guy Rahimi off the hook.  Bad cases just make for bad law.

All in all, the Rahimi decision is probably better for the RKBA than it may seem at first glance or than portrayed by anti-gun media..

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana  http://www.MtPublish.com

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