Washington, D.C. — On November 7, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for the case United States v. Rahimi to decide whether 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8), a federal law that prohibits those who are actively subject to a domestic violence civil restraining order from possessing firearms, is constitutional under the Second Amendment.
Ultraconservative appellate judges and gun rights advocates alike in this case have suggested that it is the role of the criminal legal system—and not the Second Amendment—to protect survivors. This line of reasoning is set up to fail survivors—in holding abusers accountable, protecting survivors, and ultimately in providing healing. A new Center for American Progress column overviews how domestic violence survivors already have limited options for accountability, how a negative ruling could further narrow the accountability options, and offers alternate and effective pathways for justice.
Domestic violence affects approximately 10 million people in the United States every year, yet there is a narrow focus on the formal criminal legal system as the main arbiter of justice for survivors or in holding abusers accountable. The criminal legal system has failed to provide protection and accountability for survivors while also failing to address the complex service needs of survivors. This column examines why it is crucial that 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8) remain constitutional to protect survivors and why the country must prioritize more programs and resources, such as restorative justice programs, that help domestic violence survivors hold their abusers accountable.
“United States v. Rahimi reinforces survivors’ need for alternatives to the criminal legal system for safety, justice, and accountability,” says Sabrina Talukder, director of Women’s Initiative and co-author of the column. “As the increasingly extreme and activist Supreme Court majority weighs the expansion of the Second Amendment against the safety needs of domestic violence survivors, it is now more imperative than ever that our laws ensure accountability to the complex needs of survivors and that 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(8) remain constitutional to protect all survivors.”
Read the column: “Domestic Violence Survivors Need More Options for Accountability as the Supreme Court Prepares To Hear Major Gun Case” by Sabrina Talukder and Kierra B. Jones
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