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October 30, 2015

SCOTUS grants cert on quirky aspect of federal gun prohibition case

As reported in this SCOTUSblog post, headlined "Court grants review in firearm-possession case," the Supreme Court decided today to take up a federal criminal case involving gun rights. But, interestingly, as Amy Howe explains in the post, the Court did not accept for review the Second Amendment issue lurking in the case:

This afternoon the Court issued an initial group of orders from its October 30 Conference, adding one new case to its merits docket for the Term.  The Justices had considered  Voisine v. United States at two earlier Conferences before granting review today.

At issue are the convictions of two Maine men, Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, for violating a federal law that prohibits the possession of firearms and ammunition by individuals who have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  Both men allege that their convictions under Maine law for simple assault and misdemeanor domestic violence assault, respectively, do not automatically qualify as misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence for purposes of the federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), because both provisions of Maine law can be violated by conduct that is merely reckless, rather than intentional.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected that argument, and the federal government urged the Court to deny review, but the Justices today disregarded that recommendation.

Notably, however, the Court agreed to review only the recklessness question; it declined to review a second question presented by the petition, which asked the Justices to rule on whether the ban on possession of firearms by individuals convicted of domestic violence violated their rights under the Second Amendment.

October 30, 2015 at 05:51 PM | Permalink


I think it is very interesting how the court has been fiddling with cases regarding the recklessness standard. Elonis is another prominent example. What could potentially be significant about this case is if the court tried to define the difference between recklessness and intentional, a topic they quite consciously dodged in Elonis.

My own view, which I expressed regarding Elonis, is that in criminal cases recklessness is a meaningless term because juries as a practical matter equate it with simple negligence.

Posted by: Daniel | Oct 30, 2015 7:02:01 PM

"reckelssness" implies a conscious disregard.

Posted by: federalist | Oct 30, 2015 7:05:31 PM

Yeah, I think people view recklessness anywhere from conscious disregard, to gross negligence, to simple negligence. And those terms are pretty fluid in themselves.

Frankly, at this point a Supreme Court decision to consider a gun issue not on Second Amendment grounds should be no news at all. That's par for the course.

Posted by: Erik M | Oct 31, 2015 8:07:18 AM

I think it's time for them to decide a 2A case but the author of this blog might think the prohibition to "felons" or whatever is applied too broadly, but that doesn't seem a promising case for five justices to want to decide except to upheld the prohibition in question.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 31, 2015 4:36:59 PM

Daniel. To be sleepy, and hit a pedestrian walking on the side of a country road, at 3 AM, is negligent.

To speed at 60 mph, and to hit a pedestrian walking in a throng, on the sidewalk, on Fifth Avenue, in New York, at 12 Noon, is reckless.

To take your side, in opposition to that standard view, the difference was supposed to be judged out by God in the next world, according to the Medieval Catholic Church. Let's see how Avicenna explains it. "If His Being were not the same as His Reality, then His Being would be other than His Reality. Every accident is caused, and every thing caused requires a reason. Now this reason is either external to His Quiddity, or is itself His Quiddity: if it is external, then He is not a necessary being, and is not exempt from an active cause; while if the reason is itself the Quiddity, then the reason must necessarily be itself a complete being in order that the being of another may result from it. Quiddity before being has no being; and if it had being before this, it would not require a second being. The question therefore returns to the problem of being." (Also, can you see who taught the vile lawyer traitor to talk his inscrutable gibberish?)

I hoped that helped to clear things up for you.

The modern view of accidents, both the one on the lonely country road, and the one on the crowded Fifth Avenue is different. Both accidents come from the convergence of factors at one place and at one time, against very high odds. These high odds make accidents rare.

There are usually a dozen factors. The prevention of any one could prevent the entire accident. And the aim of the analysis is not to cast blame on individuals as the stupid legal system does. It is to change the entire system of the activity, to reduce the likelihood of such convergence in the future. One result is the achievement of the highest aim of torts, from which the language is taken. Prevention. Using this approach, airline safety has achieved close to 100% success. Even though, the energies and mechanics involved in flight are many times more elevated and risky, flight is the now the safest way to travel with the least damage per mile traveled. The safety was entirely achieved by technicians and engineers.

The transportation lawyer deterred a lot of improvements by making change more risky in torts. The transportation lawyer has killed tens of thousands of people by delaying safety improvements in fear of litigation if it did not work. So for example, there is no reason cars can't drive themselves safely at 200 mph with zero crashes caused by robots. The sole reason we are still driving at 65 mph and have 40000 fatalities? The stupid, treasonous, filthy lawyer traitor deters all innovation by ruinous gotcha litigation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 1, 2015 2:02:25 AM

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