After 90 minutes of oral argument, the Supreme Court appears likely to rule against a Texan challenging federal gun laws, based on the expansion of gun rights upheld in a previous case.
Overview of the Case
Zackey Rahimi, a 23-year-old Texan, is challenging federal gun laws after being granted a protective order following an assault on his girlfriend. The case is testing the boundaries of the court’s recent expansion of gun rights.
Challenges to the Federal Ban on Firearms
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found the federal ban on firearms for domestic abusers under restraining orders unconstitutional, drawing on a gun-rights ruling from 2022. The court argued that there was no historical analogue to the federal ban in 1791, leading to the ban being deemed unconstitutional.
Arguments Presented to the Supreme Court
The solicitor-general argued that the principles undergirding regulations is what matters, and judges should not insist on a ‘historical twin’ when comparing firearm restrictions today to the tradition of gun regulation at the founding. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas questioned the definition of ‘law-abiding, responsible citizens’ who may keep their guns and pressed the solicitor-general for clarification.
Defense Statement and Justice’s Response
Mr Rahimi’s lawyer struggled during oral argument and faced tough questions from Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Elena Kagan. Justice Kagan questioned the lawyer’s argument, leading to a dismal performance by Mr Wright and leaving some justices visibly confused. Justice Thomas expressed concern about the ‘huge consequences’ for Mr Rahimi’s right to own guns due to a protective order, hinting at a potential stance against re-arming Mr Rahimi.
While Justice Thomas may have reservations about the case, a majority of the court appears unlikely to rule in favor of re-arming Mr Rahimi, indicating a potential ruling against his challenge of federal gun laws.