Spouse Beaters Get Succor From Trumpian Appellate Court
A federal appeals court has ruled that a person’s right to have a gun is more important than protecting the lives of spouses and child victims of domestic violence.
In a moment of deranged absurdity that will further endanger victims of domestic violence, the court has ruled that a person who violently assaults a spouse or child can’t be stopped from possessing firearms despite the fact that women are five times more likely to be killed by abusive partners with access to guns.
That was the ruling on Thursday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with justices appointed by ex-presidents trump and Reagan. The ruling struck down the three decades old federal prohibition on firearm ownership by anyone with a court order that bans the person from “harassing, stalking, or threatening” an intimate partner or their children.
Judge Cory T. Wilson wrote that “the words ‘the people’ in the Second Amendment” means “all members of the political community, not an unspecified subset,” but rather, everyone in the “national community,” including a Texas man, Zackey Rahimi, who sued to challenge his conviction for firearm possession after he went on a shooting rampage while under a domestic violence-related court order prohibiting him from possessing firearms.
The appellate court noted that “Rahimi, while hardly a model citizen, is nonetheless part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees, all other things equal.”
Wilson said that if the law restricting guns to people with a history of domestic violence was upheld, “Could speeders be stripped of their right to keep and bear arms? Political nonconformists? People who do not recycle or drive an electric vehicle?”
In February 2020, Rahimi agreed to a civil protective order after allegedly dragging his ex-girlfriend into a car and threatening to kill her if she reported the incident to police. The order prohibited him from possessing firearms because he remained a “credible threat” to his ex-girlfriend and their child.
Beginning in December 2020, Rahimi was involved in five separate shootings. He used an AR-15 assault rifle to shoot at someone’s home after selling them Percocet. He got into a car accident and then shot at the other driver’s car and then returned in a different car to shoot at the other car again. He then shot at a constable’s car and finally, he fired shots into the air at a Whataburger after his friend’s credit card was declined.
When the police arrested Rahimi, they found a pistol and a rifle in his home. He pleaded guilty and later appealed, claiming that it was unconstitutional to prohibit him from firearm possession while he was under a domestic violence protective order.
The appellate panel evidently did not put much credence into a recent study in the medical journal Injury Epidemiology, that found that 59 percent of mass shootings studied between 2014 and 2019 were domestic violence related and in 68.2 percent of those shootings, the suspect either killed at least one family member or had a history of domestic violence.
The appellate ruling is an outgrowth of the Supreme Court’s 6–3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen in 2022. The decision struck down a New York statute that limited the ability to obtain a concealed carry permit.
To understand the latest ruling, it helps to meet the three judges who lead the panel which has jurisdiction in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, three very conservative states where gun possession is considered sacrosanct. The decision only applies to the three states but could be expanded nationwide if the Supreme Court is asked to rule.
Judge Edith Jones, 73, was appointed to the panel by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. In 1990, Jones was on the list of potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States. She previously was general counsel for the Republican Party of Texas.
A group of civil rights organizations and legal ethicists filed a complaint of misconduct against Jones on June 4, 2013, after she allegedly said that a death sentence is a service to defendants because it allows them to make peace with God and that she “referred to her personal religious views as justification for the death penalty.”
The complaint claims that Jones said in a Feb. 20, 2013 speech to the conservative, University of Pennsylvania Federalist Society, that “racial groups like African-Americans and Hispanics are predisposed to crime” and are “prone to commit acts of violence” that are more “heinous” than members of other ethnic groups.
According to the complaint, Jones said defendants’ claims of racism, innocence, arbitrariness, and violations of international law and treaties are just “red herrings” used by opponents of the death penalty, and that claims of “mental retardation” by capital defendants disgust her. The fact that those defendants were convicted of a capital crime is sufficient to prove they are not “mentally retarded,” the complaint alleges Jones to have said.
On Aug. 12, 2014, the judicial ethics panel of the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the complaint, citing lack of evidence to justify disciplining Jones.
A former Mississippi state court judge and Mississippi state representative, Cory T. Wilson was nominated as a district court judge by trump in 2019. The nomination was rejected by the Senate and Trump later nominated Wilson on March 30, 2020, to serve as a circuit judge for the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. His appointment was later confirmed in a split Senate vote.
During his confirmation hearing, Wilson came under questioning for having tweeted disparaging comments while a Mississippi state representative. Wilson had ridiculed the Clintons and mocked then-President Barack Obama.
In tweets sent from his Twitter account, Wilson called New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda a “claptrap,” used a “#CrookedHillary” hashtag in a post about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails, and referred to former President Barack Obama as a “king” when he said he would advance immigration policy on his own.
Another tweet referred to “More emails, more evidence of Clinton pay-for-play and dishonesty: Hillary and Bill Clinton, Inc. https://t.co/b4gjS19Wxp #CrookedHillary.”
Then there was Wilson’s tweet, “The new face of @TheDemocrats. As we say in the South, ‘bless her heart.’ And this claptrap is rapidly becoming the Dem agenda. #CanSheFindVenezuelaOnAMap.”
Wilson later said that if confirmed, he would probably disable his Twitter account. He rationalized that he could be objective as a judge because the role of a judge is different from the role of politician.
Some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee also questioned if Wilson could be an objective judge because of his conservative positions on the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, abortion and gun rights. Wilson had urged the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare as unconstitutional. He also said that he supported the reversal of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade and while in the Mississippi Legislature he voted for bills that banned abortions after 15 weeks and after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Judge James C. Ho is a Taiwanese-born American who was nominated in 2017 by trump to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He had been a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from 2000 to 2001. Ho then joined the U.S. Department of Justice, and served in the Office of Legal Counsel where he co-authored a memo that defended the legality of torture, then referred to as enhanced interrogation techniques.
Ho was Solicitor General of Texas from 2008 to 2010, replacing now Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. As Texas solicitor general, Ho led the state’s lawsuits against the Obama administration. Ho has worked as a volunteer attorney with the First Liberty Institute, a religious legal advocacy organization and is a member of the ultra- conservative, Federalist Society.
On Sept. 9, 2020, Trump included Ho on a list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court.
Ho described abortion as a “moral tragedy” in one ruling that upheld a Texan law that required abortion facilities to bury or cremate fetal remains.
Ho was involved in several decisions to limit voting rights. In 2020, Ho was a member of a panel that stayed a preliminary injunction entered by U.S. District Judge Fred Biery that expanded the right to use a mail-in ballot to all Texas voters during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The law would have allowed broader use of mail-in voting than under the Texas Election Code, which entitled only Texas voters over age 65 to vote absentee without an excuse.
In 2020, Ho wrote a concurring opinion supporting Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s order restricting the number of drop-off locations for mail-in ballots to one per county. Abbott’s order closed dozens of drop-off locations in populous, heavily Democratic urban areas in Texas.
To understand the appellate ruling it’s important to appreciate the continuing and rising tide of violence-related issues both in the courts and among right wing politicians.
Last week, Democratic members of the House Natural Resources Committee were blocked in an effort to reinstate a rule banning guns from the committee room. America’s favorite grim reaper and firearms enthusiast, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has promised to wear a Glock to Congress. In upholding her right to pack a weapon in the halls of congress, Boebert said “A recent report states that Americans own 46 percent of the world’s guns. I think we need to get our numbers up.”
“I feel I need one everywhere here. There are often times we are harassed in the hallways. We walk alone,” said Boebert who emphasized her weapon would be loaded.
In one of their firsts efforts, the new Republican majority in Congress removed the metal detectors that were installed outside the House chamber after the January 6 Capitol riot that ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued was a glittering example of “a peaceful transition of power” from trump to Biden.
Removing the metal detectors because they are an affront to civil liberties is like barring states from requiring bikers to wear helmets or prohibiting the federal government from requiring people to wearing a face mask in public to curtail the spread of a deadly epidemic.
The detectors are no longer necessary, we are told, because the country is safer now that the far right has commandeered a major role. They include people like Boebert, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who supports conspiracy theories and has alleged ties to the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Holocaust deniers, who voted to overturn the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and who was censured by the House of Representatives in November 2021 for posting a video on social media depicting himself as an anime character attacking other characters with the superimposed faces of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, R-N.Y., and President Joe Biden.
“When I arrived in Congress two years ago, Nancy Pelosi put this hunk of garbage outside of the House chambers for members of Congress to go through,” Boebert tweeted after the vote to remove the detectors. “Today, they are being removed and we are turning Pelosi’s House back into the people’s House.”
That “people’s House” is infested with right wing, would-be dictators.
At least Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was the voice of reason when he tweeted that the entire GOP platform was “Gods. Guns. Gas Stoves.”