Supreme Court

This Woman Permanently Lost Her Second Amendment Rights Because She Lied on Her Taxes

Is this the Supreme Court’s next big gun rights case?

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Lisa Folajtar pled guilty in 2011 to federal tax fraud, a felony, which is punishable by up to three years in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In the end, she was sentenced to three years' probation, fined $10,000, and forced to pay the IRS $250,000 in back taxes, interest, and penalties.

She also permanently lost her right to keep and bear arms. According to federal law, it is unlawful "for any person…who has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year…[to] possess…any firearm or ammunition." In other words, a federal statute has seemingly placed the Second Amendment off-limits to all federal felons.

Folajtar has been fighting that particular act of Congress in federal court since 2018. Last week, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit rejected her constitutional challenge.

"Persons who have committed serious crimes forfeit the right to possess firearms much the way they 'forfeit other civil liberties,'" such as the right the vote, stated the majority opinion of Judge Thomas L. Ambro in Folajtar v. Barr. And in this case, because Congress has designated Folajtar's crime to be a felony, "we defer to the legislature's determination." That deferential approach, Ambro argued, "safeguards the separation of powers by allowing democratically constituted legislatures, not unelected judges, to decide in most cases what types of conduct reflect so serious a breach of the social compact as to justify the loss of Second Amendment rights."

Writing in dissent, Judge Stephanos Bibas faulted his colleagues for an "extreme deference that gives legislatures unreviewable power to manipulate the Second Amendment by choosing a label." Yes, there are "historical limits on the Second Amendment," he acknowledged. And yes, "those limits protect us from felons, but only if they are dangerous." Lisa Folajtar "is not dangerous. Neither the majority nor the Government suggest otherwise. Because she poses no danger to anyone," Bibas concluded, she has no business permanently losing one of her constitutional rights.

In 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit delivered a similar ruling in Kanter v. Barr. Writing in dissent, then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett—who is Justice Amy Coney Barrett now—insisted that the majority was dead wrong.

"History is consistent with common sense: it demonstrates that legislatures have the power to prohibit dangerous people from possessing guns," Barrett wrote. "But that power extends only to people who are dangerous. Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons. Nor have the parties introduced any evidence that founding-era legislatures imposed virtue-based restrictions on the right; such restrictions applied to civic rights like voting and jury service, not to individual rights like the right to possess a gun. In 1791—and for well more than a century afterward—legislatures disqualified categories of people from the right to bear arms only when they judged that doing so was necessary to protect the public safety."

I would not be surprised if Folajtar's case makes it to the Supreme Court. And if it does, the Court's newest member is sure to look askance at the federal statute that permanently stripped Folajtar of one of her constitutional rights.

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  1. If they are safe enough to be out of jail, thay are safe enough to have full rights.
    They actually do have full rights, it is just that the federal government refuses to honor the US Constitution that allegedly guarantees those rights.

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    2. If you don’t let the government steal all it wants from you, of course the government doesn’t want you to be armed.

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  2. But this magazine actively sought to elevate Biden who is anti gun over Trump who is decidedly less so. That will also potentially result in progressives gaining the senate majority.

    So complaining about it now is ludicrous. If you think a congress of one party won’t add to that list of banned people you are insane. The feds and states are primed now to continue violating all kinds of civil rights far beyond what we’ve seen even this year.

    1. In my observation this magazine has been consistent over its entire history in warning that Joe Biden should never be President, in fact that he should not have any political office at all.

      You make the mistake, all so common around here, of thinking criticism of one candidate necessarily implies endorsement of an opponent.

      1. Did you miss the writers’ declaration of who they were all voting for? I think it was like 12 Biden, 1 trump, and 2 not voting.

        I wasn’t aware that a boot could go so far up your ass, you’re able to spit shine it when you clear your throat. Have you no shame?

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        2. The preferences were 11 for Jorgensen, 4 for Biden, 1 for Trump, 7 for nobody, and 1 undecided. What exactly happens to the information you read after it enters your brain? Is it twisted around by your emotional response? Perhaps you just post whatever with little care for its veracity as long as it supports the prejudices that you’ve built up inside you. There’s going to be some really interesting psychological research into Trump and the minds of his supporters.

          1. Excuse me, but may I interrupt all this virtuous signaling for a moment?

            Realpolitik
            Realpolitik is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism.

            1. Yes, and libertarians often choose not to play that game. Which I think is fine. There is a place in the world for idealists and contrarian thinkers. Yes, the action takes place in the world of realpolitik. That’s where you have to work if you want to affect what is happening right now. But it’s also good to have people thinking about and discussing other ways things could be and how we might get there.

              1. Well, as “libertarians” how were we better served? By a narcissist with a proclivity for polemics, under whom we got judges via the Federalist Society and not the ABA; or will we be better off with a POTUS who is a party faithful career politician who wants nothing more than more government in our lives?

                Idealism, if it belongs anywhere, should be in a classroom. I live in the real world where I can be easily rendered a felon because of this progressive bullshit. If you’ve taken any notice of what’s happening in the rest of the world [Great Britain, Scandinavia] this is precisely what they want to do here.

      2. One article listing Biden’s shortcomings and several comments in other articles, does not a consistent history make. If anyone has made a mistake, it would appear that it is you.

    2. Yeah Donald “Take the guns first. Go through due process second, I like taking the guns early” Trump is such a towering beacon 2A rights.

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  3. “Is this the Supreme Court’s next big gun rights case?”

    It would be nice.

    1. Man I hope so…they better not punt on this one as well

      1. Who are we kidding, they’ll punt this on first and goal from the one.

    2. The next big gun rights case will be when the USSC takes up President Harris’ executive order banning semi-automatic rifles.

      1. The next big gun rights case will be when the USSC takes up President Harris’ executive order banning semi-automatic rifles private ownership of all firearms and declaring that the fourth amendment does not apply to BATFE agents searching for weapons.

        FTFY

        1. Because, of course, no reasonable person believes that private individuals should be allowed to own guns; thus all searches for guns are, ipso facto, reasonable.

          President-elect Harris is a lawyer, so she ought to know.

  4. The right to vote is a rather different sort of right (really more of a privilege than a right) from the right to self defense. A better comparison would be to the right to free speech, or the right to be free from unreasonable searches.

    1. Yet, since she has served her sentence, shouldn’t all of her rights be restored? She wasn’t even considered “dangerous” enough to actually spend time in jail.

      1. Yes, she should have all right restored. My point is that not many people would say that it is reasonable for felons to lose their 1st or 4th amendment rights forever, even if they do think that felons shouldn’t vote. So the comparison made by one judge doesn’t hold up. It’s a different category of right.

        1. I agree. You know, a whole bunch of folks think that the Constitution, in particular, was formed to protect basic human rights. Indeed, MOST folks would say that. If true, then are aren’t really any “category” of rights, since all of them are, or should be, basically, sacrosanct.

          1. Voting isn’t a right. It’s only justified as self-defense against other voters.

    2. Shh, don’t give them ideas.

      If legislation can arbitrarily remove any guaranteed right from a person what’s to stop them from permanently removing every right from free speech onwards if someone has ever been convicted of jaywalking?

      1. what’s to stop them from permanently removing every right from free speech onwards

        The only thing that really keeps anyone from doing whatever they want: public pressure and/or some sense of conscience or shame.

        1. So, absolutely nothing? Public pressure wants to wield the hammer of government to smash the undesirables and shamelessness is something of a prerequisite to running for public office.

          1. You can’t force people to want liberty.

            1. No but you can make liberty the enemy and try to make it illegal, and when that fails, make enslavement so popular that we vote liberty out of the US – you know, like we did a couple weeks ago?

              1. And for 8 years prior to 2016.

          2. Well, it seemed to work reasonably well for a few hundred years. But when you can convince a lot of people that futile attempts to stop one virus that isn’t all that deadly justify stomping on all rights, I don’t know what you are supposed to do then.

            1. Pack up and leave. Or be the idiot in the history books who stayed despite transparent impending warnings of certain doom. Like the Germans.

              1. And go where? In case you haven’t noticed the entire world is somehow losing its collective mind more than the United States. In Britain they have cops knocking on doors to make sure that no non-residents are inside houses and in Australia they’ve made it illegal to walk down the street. From Paris to Tokyo the world is blowing its economic brains out.

                Somehow, impossibly, relatively (and only ever so relatively) the United States is still the land of the (comparatively) free.

                1. Yeah, sad but true. Where to go? There aren’t many places in the world that are less bad than the state I live in. A few states are slightly better, but not many.

        2. Well, zeb, they’ve destroyed tens of millions of people’s lives via lockdowns and seized power with blatant fraud after 5 years of nothing but lies.
          They are totalitarians who have an implicit mandate to rule/do whatever they want., and have no shame or conscience.
          Welcome to the New Normal.

          1. Yup. And unless or until enough people are willing to stand up to it, it doesn’t change. I hope I’m too pessimistic right now, but I don’t think I am.

    3. The right to vote

      There is no constitutionally-enumerated “right to vote”. There are only constitutional prohibitions on preventing citizens from voting…when a vote is called for…on the basis of gender or race.

  5. i would love to see this kind of thing changed. there are so many crimes that have been manufactured, that “felon” has not been an effective measure of how dangerous a person is for quite some time. i would love to see the scramble if the courts ordered the legislatures to more narrowly define this restriction. next on the list is the absurdity of “permanently.”

  6. Ever notice that when you put The IRS together it spells “theirs”?

    1. No, I hadn’t. But an interesting observation. 🙂

  7. She should just move to D.C. They seldom charge felons in possession of firearms, even those previously convicted of violent crimes.

    1. Ditto Chicago; one repeat [violent] felon there was arrested no less than 43 times on weapons charges, until someone finally popped a cap up his ass for good.

      Of course that is supposedly my fault just for being a gun owner.

  8. I have faith that we’ll get a better national disposition on this in the Era of Biden.

  9. When I was younger I was all about restricting the rights of felons. However as I get older I see that people can make mistakes and come back from them. I knew voting rights could be lost (on a state by state basis) for felonies, but I always assumed guns were the same. Seems odd given guns are a constitutional right and voting is…well lesser than a constitutional right, that felonies and guns would similarly be AT LEAST left to the states to decide. Not the federal government unilaterally revoking that right. How did this come to be? Surprising that the article doesn’t touch on the history of this.

    1. Viewing anything as a “constitutional right” is ceding authority where none exists.

      The Constitution limits the governments of the United States, not the citizens, therefore it is laws that are “constitutional” (or “unconstitutional”), not rights. The Bill of Rights identified things that the government is never allowed to legislate, and that includes anything regarding the right to keep and bear arms. Shall not be infringed means exactly what is says.

      Voting is by no means a lesser right. It is even more fundamental if governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, means anything anymore.

      1. Voting is the right to be represented and not subjugated.

        Fundamental

      2. The right to keep and bear arms is an enumerated right.
        The right to vote (or more properly, sufferage) is strongly implied by various clauses but not clearly enumerated.

      3. Viewing anything as a “constitutional right” is ceding authority where none exists.

        Not when you realize that “constitutional right” is usually used as a shorthand for “a right that is protected by the U.S. Constitution via explicit enumeration”.

  10. Does anyone think that Brain-Damaged Biden or Heels Up Harris will do anything to help citizens exercise their 2A rights?

    1. Maybe some other brain-damaged folks?

    2. They will encourage a lot more gun sales.

      There are already tons of new gun owners this year, and lots of long time gun owners have been buying more too. And lots of unregistered, no serial number guns from 80% build stuff. Judging from prices and lead times on that stuff right now, it’s pretty huge. It will be interesting to see how it plays if they do try something confiscatory.

      1. “It will be interesting to see how it plays if they do try something confiscatory.”

        See my reply to your comment above regarding “idealism.” This is precisely the sort of thing I am referring to. And “idealism” will not do shit for me when I am deemed to be a felon by default.

  11. Thank goodness Trump was able to appoint three judges, because two of them are great.

  12. Lost rights indeed. Take-away lesson: contradict the state, and the state will not only punish your specific crime but restrict all your other rights.

    So when more speech becomes illegal, people will face specific punishment plus forfeiture of 1st Amendment rights.

  13. The right to bear arms is a natural right, arising out of the natural right to self defense, and it is also a right recognized in the 2d Amendment. Congress has no authority to deny or abrogate natural rights, unless a person has forfeited their rights. Problem is, that the Supreme Court does not now [and never has] recognize(d) natural rights or “fundamental rights,” which means that all rights are subject to executive orders, Congressional legislation, and to regulations issued by agencies, and, thus, that all rights are subject to the whims and personal values of the members of the Supreme Court, those immensely self-important, black-robed, enshrined-for-life “Justices” who interpret the laws for the benefit of the state.

  14. “In other words, a federal statute has seemingly placed the Second Amendment off-limits to all federal felons.”
    It applies to ALL felonies, not just federal.

  15. It was interesting to note that old time cap and ball percussion revolvers are not considered firearms.
    You can order them through the mail and be delivered straight to your house. No FFL is needed.
    I believe only the state of Georgia prohibits felons from possessing this kind of gun.
    If She lives in any other state, she could have this kind of six shooter

    1. I love black powder guns, the historical originals and the replicas you can safely shoot. But these are, at least in my opinion, not a viable alternative to modern weapons that are more powerful, efficient, and reliable.

      While on the subject, just inherited a replica of a Colt Walker .44; was the most powerful handgun from 1847 until the .357 magnum was invented in 1935. Will take up to 60 grains a black powder per cylinder with a muzzle velocity of over 1300 fps. Only problem is you literally needed a horse to carry the thing as it weighs nearly five pounds. Compared to my Ruger LCR .357 that weights about 17.5 ounces and is quickly reloaded, I will rely on that for bad bears and worse men.

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