Court grants review in firearm-possession case
on Oct 30, 2015 at 4:19 pm
This afternoon the Court issued an initial group of orders from its October 30 Conference, adding one new case to its merits docket for the Term. The Justices had considered Voisine v. United States at two earlier Conferences before granting review today.
At issue are the convictions of two Maine men, Stephen Voisine and William Armstrong, for violating a federal law that prohibits the possession of firearms and ammunition by individuals who have previously been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Both men allege that their convictions under Maine law for simple assault and misdemeanor domestic violence assault, respectively, do not automatically qualify as misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence for purposes of the federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), because both provisions of Maine law can be violated by conduct that is merely reckless, rather than intentional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit rejected that argument, and the federal government urged the Court to deny review, but the Justices today disregarded that recommendation.
Notably, however, the Court agreed to review only the recklessness question; it declined to review a second question presented by the petition, which asked the Justices to rule on whether the ban on possession of firearms by individuals convicted of domestic violence violated their rights under the Second Amendment.
The case is likely to be scheduled for oral argument in late February or early March. We expect additional orders from today’s Conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m.