Domestic Violence and the 2nd Amendment

All Supreme Courts decisions are important, but some decisions seem to be more newsworthy than others. Recent decisions on Abortion Rights, Immigration, Government Bribery, Affirmative Action and Semi-Automatic Weapons received a good amount of the news/air time. You may have not heard much about this term’s last announced Supreme Court decision: Voisine v. United States.


In Voisine v. United States the Supreme Court upheld  a federal law prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. This case had two different defendants and two separate series of events:

  • Stephen L. Voisine  of Maine twice pleaded guilty to a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” when assaulting his partner.
  • Five years later he was convicted of killing a bald eagle.
  • William Armstrong III was convicted of assaulting his wife in violation of Maine’s misdemeanor domestic violence assault statutes in 2002 and 2008.
  • In 2010, police searched the Armstrong residence for drugs and drug paraphernalia and discovered ammunition which was later linked to guns Armstrong had transported to a friend’s house.
  • Maine authorities used a 1996 federal law that bars felons, fugitives and other groups of people from owning guns, including anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who had not asked questions during oral arguments for over a decade, broke his silence in this case by questioning if a misdemeanor violation should suspend a constitutional right indefinitely. (Follow this link to hear the audio recording AND/OR read the transcript of this case –Justice Thomas’ dialogue starts at approximately 41 minutes into the hearing.)

In this case six of the eight Justices agreed to uphold the federal law in question and the Maine courts decisions.  Justice Sotomayer joined Justice Thomas opposed it. In doing so the Court again ruled that the Second Amendment can be regulated. In this case they also noted that a lifetime ban on the use of a gun is a reasonable regulation for acts of domestic violence.

Gun Rights advocates proudly announce that they stand for the Second Amendment.  If you claim to support it (and honestly who doesn’t?) you need to support ALL of of it–including the first four words–A well regulated Militia. 

Our Supreme Court does.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Please note that the website: Supreme Court Review  is an excellent source for Supreme Court information. It not only has the transcript of the hearings, but pdf copies of the briefs used in the hearings and the Justices’ Opinions.


About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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