Supreme Court

Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor Join Forces in Gun Case Dissent

The Supreme Court rules 6-2 in Voisine v. United States.

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In a 6-2 opinion issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court extended a federal statute which bans firearm possession by any person convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" to cover those individuals who have "misdemeanor assault convictions for reckless (as contrasted to knowing or intentional) conduct."

As Justice Elena Kagan explained in her majority opinion today in Voisine v. United States, "the federal ban on firearms possession applies to any person with a prior misdemeanor conviction for the 'use…of physical force' against a domestic relation. That language, naturally read, encompasses acts of force undertaken recklessly—i.e., with conscious disregard of a substantial risk of harm."

C-SPAN

Writing in dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, rejected the majority's "overly broad conception of a use of force." In the Thomas-Sotomayor view, "the majority blurs the distinction between recklessness and intentional wrongdoing" and thereby does a grave injustice to criminal defendants.

It's not every day that you find Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor standing together against the rest of the Court. But the two found common ground today in a case that pitted the rights of unpopular criminal defendants against an expansive interpretation of federal law enforcement power.

Thomas and Sotomayor did not agree on everything about this case, however. Writing only for himself, Thomas also faulted the majority for adopting a statutory interpretation that puts Second Amendment rights at risk. As Thomas noted, the federal statute at issue "is already very broad. It imposes a lifetime ban on gun ownership for a single intentional nonconsensual touching of a family member. A mother who slaps her 18-year-old son for talking back to her—an intentional use of force—could lose her right to bear arms forever if she is cited by the police under a local ordinance. The majority seeks to expand that already broad rule to any reckless physical injury or nonconsensual touch. I would not extend the statute into that constitutionally problematic territory." Sotomayor did not join that part of Thomas' dissent.

The Supreme Court's opinion in Voisine v. United States is available here.

NEXT: N.Y. Senate passes bill banning funding for university student groups that "encourage" "hate speech" [UPDATE discusses party breakdown of the vote]

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  1. 1. Make everything a crime
    2. Pass law that criminals have no rights
    3. Welcome to America

    1. I’m sad. My first thought when I read this was “at least there’s some due process involved this time”, as a contrast to the bills that are being pushed in Congress right now. The proper response would have been more like yours. I shouldn’t let them move the goal posts that way…

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  2. I did not realize this was a law. Wow, this law is a grabber’s wet dream.

    1. It’s worst than that, Juice. The grabber/feminist coalition wants to yank the guns of anyone suspected (as in reported) to have committed domestic violence. Think about that – any woman can make a unilateral decision to have your guns taken away with no due process. None. And good luck getting those guns back. And remember that this same coalition also wants relaxed standards of evidence in DV cases – that’s what that “believe women” slogan refers to.

      1. I knew a guy that had his guns confiscated during an ugly divorce. All on the say so of an angry future ex-wife.

      2. Pennsylvania has done them one better. We have “Protection form Abuse” orders. They can be filed with a judge ex parte, without the accused being present at the hearing, so you can’t present your case. When the motion is filed, regardless of whether it is granted or not, the sheriff has to come and confiscate any of your guns, and all ammunition. You are flagged in the PICS system, what PA uses for background checks on gun purchases, so you cannot buy another gun while the order is being adjudicated or while it stands. If the order is granted, in addition to losing your gun rights, you are also either kicked out of your home or forced to provide accommodations for the accuser, and instantly lose custodial and visitation rights for any children you may have. Eventually, you have a full hearing with both parties present so you can attempt to overturn the order, but even if you do good luck getting your guns back, and you’re still out whatever money you spent on additional rent and legal fees.

        1. The lesson there is make sure to file against her first.

        2. When the motion is filed, regardless of whether it is granted or not, the sheriff has to come and confiscate any of your guns, and all ammunition.

          See, you get your due process before your fundamental rights are taken away. What are you complaining about?

          /sarc OFF

      3. Good lord… are women and children really worth all the hassle?

        1. No, which is why all the “Sex Trafficking” panic from the Feminist Left. Just as the “White Slavery” panic of the late Victorian era was all about middle class white women afraid that if they had to compete with sex-for-pay they were in deep do do, the “Sex Trafficking” bullshit is all about keeping sex-for-pay illegal, because the Feminists are afraid that if it as legal, no man with any sense would marry.

        2. Women, yes. Children, no.

      4. that’s what that “believe women” slogan refers to.

        Except of course if they’re talking about the Clintons, then they’re obviously lying slut trash vast right wing conspirators.

      5. Why are there no libertarian women? Because they are, by nature and societal nurture, anathema to liberty. It doesn’t take a statistician to recognize the pattern.

        Female fear is a primary driver of government expansion. It has always been thus.

      6. In California, if a new law passes, any one who has contact with you can report you to a judge and get your guns removed.

    2. I saw this brought up by a gun grabber recently (the elitist sack of shit arguing with Lauren Southern on Sky). He said domestic abusers shouldn’t be allowed to have guns and it’s a travesty we don’t have this common sense law. Something to that effect, at least.

      We do have it, though. If you are convicted of any domestic violence charge, even if it doesn’t involve violence, you are automatically kicked out of the military now because you aren’t legally allowed to handle firearms.

      I saw a guy who called the cops on himself in the military because his wife attacked him (he was borderline retarded/a high-functioning retard, by my estimate). She ended up with a light bruise on her arm or some such. No conviction resulted, but despite no use of violence on his end he would have been kicked out for that.

  3. A mother who slaps her 18-year-old son for talking back to her?an intentional use of force?could lose her right to bear arms forever if she is cited by the police under a local ordinance.

    So, if you stop a crazy person you happen to know or be related from shooting themselves or someone else, you lose your right to bear arms. If you’re the actual crazy person, well… TBD.

  4. Sotomayor has not turned out to be the lefty lunatic I thought she would be…I bet that burns O’s ass.

    1. What I should have said is that the only things Obumbles has done right he did by accident.

      *I think cops, who have the highest rate of domestic violence of any group, get a pass on this law. Someone please tell me I am wrong.

      1. They get a pass because you can’t convict a cop.

      2. If they didn’t cops would have a lot more turnover.

  5. My friends, given the weakness of the Heller opinion and the devotion of Our Masters to gun control, I confidently predict that we will see the weak 2A protections we have now emasculated and left in a ditch within 10 years.

    1. Agreed. Even the SC seems intent on cutting the 2nd’s nuts out.

      1. Heller is an incredibly weak opinion. It basically says that “well, we can’t completely ignore the 2A because its right there in the BOR and people know about it, so here’s a roadmap to infringing on the right to keep and bear arms that we will sign off on.”

        Considering that Heller allows a state to completely ban carrying arms outside your home without a state-issued license, I’d say its all show, no go. The development of 2A jurisprudence since Heller is mostly a story of infringements on the RKBA being upheld, with a handful of exceptions for concealed carry licensing (which is itself an infringement on the RKBA).

        1. Agreed again. A long term hope could state by state nullification of future decisions as long as you happen to live in one of the right states. A (further) neutered 2nd just won’t fly in large swathes of the country.

          1. Having a state constitution that guarantees the right is nice.


            All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned:

            Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.

            The concealed part sucks, but open carry is well defended by the state SC.

          2. State constitutions are powerless against federal laws.

            They can help with state laws, its true.

    2. Thought experiment: grand bargain involving “sure, you can have full firearms registration from here on out, in exchange for a permanent lift of restrictions on the domestic production of select-fire firearms for civvies. Same goes for ‘destructive devices.’ Unlimited machine guns in exchange for registration. Deal?”

      1. Interesting. I can attach a grenade launcher to an AR as long as I register everything with the state. So, yes, the authorities have a list for confiscation purposes, but my ability to resist confiscation has now grown exponentially.

        1. It would be more appropriate to think of it as a “wild fantasy” rather than “thought experiment.” Having said that, I would even find a somewhat stringent “training requirement” component to such a compromise palatable for the most part, personally. Of course I’d prefer the “good old days” of ordering surplus 20mm semiauto tank guns out of a mail-order catalogue, but what can you do?

  6. >It’s not everyday that you find Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor standing together against the rest of the Court.

    That should be “every day.” The word “everyday” is an adjective. You could write “It’s not an everyday occurrence […]” instead, which would be grammatically correct. The take-home: If it is not modifying a noun, it it two separate words.

    The writing quality of Reason has been falling lately. You’re in sore need of editorial review to raise it back up to its previous quality. Reason is a public face for libertarians of all stripes.

    1. Nikki? Is that you? Have you come back to us?

      1. Heh, I am someone that some of you might remember, but I am not Nikki. I confess a certain amusement that quite a few of you are still here and are as wonderful and terrible as I recall.

        I pulled back from reading anything about politics at all for a few years because I realized it was making me irascible. Then what happened was all the spheres I could previously read articles in were infected with politics the same way they’ve been infected with advertisements-turned-articles. I like tech articles, but the trend is now if anything remotely related to the Internet or a tech company is involved, then a political article is now a tech article (e.g. a political article created a small buzz on Facebook makes it a technology article). All politics articles that remotely touch on science are now science articles. That trend started a long time ago but the infection has run its course and science reporting is now in the terminal stage. There is no sphere that the proggies don’t try to force their politics into, no safe harbor from the slant.

        I figured that if I am going to be forced to read politics regardless of how I feel about people’s slanted reporting on it, I might as well read politics from a place that I stand a fighting chance of agreeing with it.

        1. So, you’re Tulpa.

          I suspected from the incessant, unremitting whinging.

            1. First, allow me to ask, did MNG go away permanently? Really, truly?

              Second, fuck you for comparing me to that cockbag.

    2. Only we get to say that. Go away.

    3. You’re free to submit a resume for the position of blog-post editor. Oh, wait – there’s no such thing.

    4. it it two separate words.

      You’re in sore need

      Something about grass houses and stoners, I think.

      1. The first one is a typo (the Dvorak keyboard layout puts those two keys very close to one another). There’s a difference between pressing the wrong keys and not knowing the difference between “every day” and “everyday.”

        There isn’t anything wrong with the second phrase, grammatically or otherwise.

        My comments are also not a major face of published libertarian thought, so I’m not sure that I need a copy editor given that I still manage to get it right 99.99% of the time. I don’t think there’s any hypocrisy there.

        Finally, many of the comments in any given thread are picking on the author, what the author said, or how it was said. I’m in good company. 😉

        1. I did say.

          We don’t recognize you. It’s just that whole “I can talk shit about my family, but better none of you buggers do it or you’ll feel the back of my hand, so you will!”

          You’ll take some lumps, but stick around. Everyone will mostly forget it by the next thread. In three weeks, you’ll be making dick jokes and hitting on staffers – one of the gang.

          Cheers.

          1. Oh, I know the culture ’round these parts all too well. I used to comment heavily here a few years back and took a break from politics in general. I’m currently incognito. It’s more fun to keep you all guessing at who I am now that I’ve returned. Lots of new faces, but lots of the old ones still around too.

            I read SugarFree’s really disgusting (in a poetic sort of way) bodice-ripper involving Dianne Feinstein and an AR-15 and the first thought I had was “holy shit, SugarFree’s still around!” My second thought was “this place hasn’t changed one bit.”

            Every other forum that used to be inviting for libertarians have been infested with fucking progs telling us how we’d tear down society, no roads would be built, etc. It’s all their old, stupid lies writ large. They’re not simply content with having a big slice of the pie in telling everyone what to do in the political sphere, but they have to shout libertarians down and distort our message to a disgusting caricature. I hope that this signals that they’re actually afraid that our views are gaining traction and that they perceive us to be a legitimate threat to their dominance.

            1. No, actually, fuck you you bloviating ass.

              1. Don’t like how I write, huh? Fuck you back, you condescending, self-righteous prick. You should be fed feet-first into a wood chipper so that you’ll have a bit of time to reflect on the pure cuntery you exhibited that brought you to that point.

                1. No, I don’t like that you stupidly bang out typos while bitching about typos, and I don’t like that you’re Tulpa.

                  FOAD.

                  1. It wasn’t a typo. Here’s a blog post from Damon Root in 2012 where he made the exact same mistake. He doesn’t know the difference.

                    Your handle is unfamiliar. I vaguely remember Tulpa posted a lot years ago, but don’t recall holding any animosity towards him (her?). Did he go full retard and start Trump spamming and get run off or something?

                    Your insult game’s weak. My erection’s already fading. 🙁

        2. There’s a difference between pressing the wrong keys and not knowing the difference between “every day” and “everyday”

          It was used once you fucking moron, it could easily be a sticky key , which is no different functionally than hitting the wrong key. Fuck, it’s actually not as bad as hitting the wrong key , so save the lecture fuckwit.

        3. I gave you two choices to see if you’d pick out your own mistake. You did. You didn’t pick up on your original mistake, which is to be a prancy little grammar nazi.

          1. I know that some people don’t agree with this idea, but I’m also not alone in thinking that we should be trying our best this year to give everything the extra spit and polish.

            I’m not saying that libertarians should be changing who we are or hiding behind lies like politicians do. I’m just saying that we should square away all the stuff we support that isn’t currently in use and hone our darts and take aim sharply at issues that the public is most likely to agree with us on. Bullseye the shit that people care about and look like we’re ready, professional, skilled, approachable, and competent to lead the country. We’ve got more interest this time around than ever due to the other two candidates being shitpuppets that nobody likes. We’ve already got stuff in common with the straight-ticketers out there, so put that on display.

            The duopoly party hold on politics forced us into a cave, and we look like cavemen, hairy and pale from lacking sunlight for so long. It’s time to trim the hair back to socially acceptable levels, put on a suit and tie and look like we belong on stage at the televised debates. All the other blogs have copy editors these days. They may be shills and hucksters, but they look like they’re barking with the big dogs.

  7. From a purely strict reading of the law in question, I can see both sides. The wording of the law leaves open this ambiguity.

    The problem, is that the law in and of itself is unconstitutional on its face. How can an individual lose a right (that was affirmed by SCOTUS to be a fundamental right) for their entire lifetime for a misdemeanor conviction? Can a person’s house be searched anytime the police want for the rest of their life because they were found guilty of misdemeanor possession of pot? Can a person no longer receive 5th Amendment protection if they were found guilty of a misdemeanor of obstruction of justice? How about 8th Amendment protections if they were cited for contempt of court?

    1. Consistency is overrated apparently.

    2. Maybe Texas can pass a law prohibiting abortions by women who have been convicted of misdemeanors?

  8. Sotomayor and Thomas vote together 71% of the time (from a 2014 matrix, so a bit out of date, but probably still the ballpark).

    1. Clarence Thomas is half libertarian.
      Sonya Sotomayor is half to boot.
      Put them together:
      What a dangerous, fringy coot!

    2. Two thirds of Supreme Court decisions were unanimous in 2014, so not so surprising.

      http://wtvr.com/2014/07/01/sup…..s-session/

  9. But ya just gotta vote Trump in the fall, right? I mean, a vote for Johnson is really a vote for Hillary, and she’ll be appointing SC justices. Even if we disagree on foreign policy, reckless spending, corporate cronyism, bank bailouts, free speech, the drug war, civil asset forfeiture, and tax policy, surely you can agree her appointments will be worse than the ones a pseudo-Republican would appoint.

    /Team Red Hack

    1. My civil duty on election day will be exercised by picking up a new combat shotgun and ammo.

    2. Amusingly, this is pretty much verbatim the same thing a Democrat would say. Team, Team, Team!

      At least with Hillary I understand, but why anyone with even half a brain would think another life long democrat would be any different is confusing. It would appear the Democrats have discovered a way to make sure everyone in the race is a Democrat; which is have one of them run as a Republican. Apparently, no one will notice the difference. As long as he plays the part on TV no one will actually check.

    3. When you wake up on Nov 10, either Hildog or Trumpski will have been elected. The only question is how severe your guilt will be.

      1. Is that a euphemism for hangover? Because my hangover is going to suck if I have to drink myself unconscious between my kids going to bed and close of the central polls.

    4. Moving to the Tampa Bay area six months before a Presidential election is really going to fuck with my wa. On the other hand, there’s a guy in my neighborhood with an honest to God Libertarian Party yard sign. But yeah, between Yankee drivers who tailgate me in 35 mph zones (and lower speed limits. I don’t get it. We’re going 30 in a neighborhood, why are you up my ass?) and shitheads who drive 40 in a 55, I’m going to take a tire-iron to someone and end up afoul of this law if I have to do much driving. Luckily, I’m mostly working out of my home.

    5. If Hillary wins, she amnesties and open borders her way to a permanent Big Government electoral majority. If you’re a-ok with that, don’t vote Trump.

      PEW Research on Hispanic Americans
      http://www.pewresearch.org/fac…..democrats/
      Hispanics Lean Democratic over 3 to 1
      http://www.pewhispanic.org/201…..-religion/
      Hispanics Want Bigger Government Providing More Services over 3 to 1

      1. If you’re a-ok with that, don’t vote Trump.

        Because not voting for Trump is a vote for Hillary, and not voting for Hillary is a vote for Trump. In general, not voting for Candidate X is a vote for every other candidate in existence. So why even bother voting if voting for one candidate means I also vote for all the other candidates?

  10. These laws do not go far enough.

    People convicted of domestic violence should be prohibited from marrying or cohabitating. if they do not like it, they can ask for a pardon.

  11. now misdemeanors

    TRAITORS

    If you are one that believes the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of what is lawful and constitutional, then you have believed a lie and a myth that Jefferson warned about. The States still retain their rights to this day to defy the federal judiciary, which has become an oligarchy. We just need strong statesmen as governors and legislatures to make that stand! The people will get behind those that will take the stand, but we must first seek out those willing to put all they are on the line for the sake of freedom, not necessarily a political future.
    “Perhaps even more disturbing is that the voters who feel strongest about overriding the federal courts ? Republicans and conservatives – are those who traditionally have been the most supportive of the Constitution and separation of powers,” reports Rasmussen. “During the Obama years, however, these voters have become increasingly suspicious and even hostile toward the federal government.”

    1. In writing to William Jarvis, Jefferson said, “You seem . . . to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”
      The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal Judiciary; an irresponsible body (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped.”

  12. It imposes a lifetime ban on gun ownership for a single intentional nonconsensual touching of a family member.

    So everyone who spanks their children loses their gun rights?

  13. A brief skim suggests to me that these two upstanding citizens were not in fact guilty of mere recklessness. They were claiming that the final conviction “could” have been for recklessness. It was based entirely on hypotheticals.

    SCOTUS was an asshole for taking this case and not letting it stand with the First Circuit.

  14. i worry more about the idea that anyone should lose a right forever.

  15. He leared at me, take his guns for having a micro aggressive look in his eyes.

  16. Wow. Losing a fundamental right to self defense. Over a misdemeanor. In AZ, I believe that DV was kind of an addition to a charge. assault by dv, trepass by dv, criminal damage by dv. So the DV designation wasn’t based on what you did but that you had that relationship. You can get chaged and found guilty of beating the shit out of your own shit, because the magic of community property. It is easy to get felony criminal damage, 500ish?, So SCOTUS is telling me that if I kick the tailight out of my new Audi that it is constitutional to disallow me the right to carry.

    So can I lose other rights over a misdameanor? to vote? what I can say? What are exactly the contours of this new line of intrustion?

    Fuck this court. Fuck this court. Fuck this court.

  17. Wow. Losing a fundamental right to self defense. Over a misdemeanor. In AZ, I believe that DV was kind of an addition to a charge. assault by dv, trepass by dv, criminal damage by dv. So the DV designation wasn’t based on what you did but that you had that relationship. You can get chaged and found guilty of beating the shit out of your own shit, because the magic of community property. It is easy to get felony criminal damage, 500ish?, So SCOTUS is telling me that if I kick the tailight out of my new Audi that it is constitutional to disallow me the right to carry.

    So can I lose other rights over a misdameanor? to vote? what I can say? What are exactly the contours of this new line of intrustion?

    Fuck this court. Fuck this court. Fuck this court.

  18. People convicted of domestic violence should be prohibited from marrying or cohabitating. if they do not like it, they can ask for a pardon.

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