New Supreme Court Domestic Violence Ruling

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Domestic Violence on Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

It’s not every day the U.S. Supreme Court decides a case impacting family law. This week, it ruled on the intersection between domestic violence and gun control.

NPR reports that the majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, concludes that misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence are sufficient to invoke a federal ban on firearms possession.

I’ve written before about domestic violence. A 1996 federal law prohibits a person with a “qualifying” misdemeanor domestic violence conviction from possessing, shipping, or receiving a firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

The plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Stephen Voisine, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges after slapping his romantic partner. Several years later, he was caught with a firearm in violation of a federal law affecting convicted domestic abusers.

Stephen’s case, Voisine v. United States, attracted a lot of attention recently because Congress has been trying to tighten gun control laws, and because Justice Thomas asked questions during oral argument for the first time in a decade.

In Voisine, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 6-2 vote, that people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can be barred from owning firearms.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, concluded:

Our answer is informed by congressional recognition … of the special risks posed by firearm possession by domestic abusers. “Domestic violence often escalates in severity over time … and the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood that it will escalate to homicide….”

The NPR article is here.