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Official Statement: U.S. v Rahimi Supreme Court Ruling

June 28, 2024


The U.S. v Rahimi Supreme Court case was decided, and the verdict upholds a vital form of sexual violence prevention.  The Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA) fought to protect survivors and prevent sexual violence by signing two amicus briefs, led by Brady United and the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (NIWRC). Our voice, joined by many other organizations dedicated to domestic violence and gun violence, informed the Supreme Court’s decision to rule in favor of upholding these important protections.

The U.S. v Rahimi Supreme Court case spotlighted a vital form of prevention against sexual violence and domestic abuse. Zackey Rahimi, the defendant, was served a protective order for domestic abuse due to assaulting his ex-girlfriend. This restraining order temporarily stripped him of the right to possess firearms. He knowingly violated this provision by owning several firearms. Rahimi’s lawyer argued that the firearm provision violated his Second Amendment rights. The lower courts and the Fifth Circuit agreed and ruled in his favor. In February of 2023, a three-judge panel in the Fifth Circuit decided that the federal prohibition of gun possession for people subject to domestic violence protective orders is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The Fifth Circuit decison was very dangerous and put the lives of domestic and sexual violence survivors at risk nationwide. 

On June 21, 2024, the Supreme Court delivered its ruling in United States v. Rahimi, upholding the constitutionality of a federal law (18 U.S.C. §922(g)(8)) that prohibits individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. The law in question specifically targets individuals who pose a threat to the safety of an intimate partner or a child, making it crucial that it be upheld. The decision was rendered with an 8-1 majority, with Chief Justice Roberts authoring the majority opinion​.  In its decision, the court emphasized that the regulations imposed on threatening individuals are in line with historical traditions aimed at protecting public safety. This interpretation rivals that of the Fifth Circuit, which offered a considerably narrower reading of historical analogs, requiring stricter historical comparison, thus, threatening the protection of those subject to intimate partner violence. 

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision was both vital and notable as it not only upheld protective law, but in doing so, strengthened it by means of interpretation. The Court reaffirmed that the regulation is consistent with historical firearm laws that disarmed individuals deemed dangerous, aligning itself with the principles of public safety and protection from physical threats. 

Overall, the ruling on United States v. Rahimi stands as a huge win in the name of sexual violence prevention and is critical in supporting the work of the Sexual Violence Prevention Association (SVPA) and organizations amongst it. The ruling reinforces the legal framework that supports disarming individuals who pose a threat to domestic violence victims, which aligns with the SVPA’s mission to enhance protections for vulnerable populations through systemic policy changes. Furthermore, the ruling provides precedent for advocating for both the extension and enforcement of similar protective measures at both state and federal levels, underscoring the importance of law-making that balances individual rights with the need for public safety. In addition, The Court’s ruling stands to bolster educational campaigns which raise awareness about legal mechanisms that protect domestic violence survivors. Finally, the decision highlights the legitimacy of laws aimed at disarming dangerous individuals, which supports the movement to increase legislative measures against firearm possession by those under restraining orders, for example, by increasing the frequency and comprehensiveness of background checks prior to firearm purchase. 

The Supreme Court’s Decision in United States v. Rahimi is key, as it provides both another layer of protection for survivors of intimate partner violence and a foundation for advocacy in the name of sexual violence prevention. Thus, the decision is a step towards the promotion of safe communities, the prevention of sexual violence, and the protection of survivors of it.

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