You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Officials confirm first Ebola case diagnosed in US
    DALLAS — A patient at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case of the disease to be diagnosed in the United States, federal health officials announced Tuesday.
  • Obama hosts India’s Modi for a White House dinner of water-only
    WASHINGTON – Once shunned by the United States, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode a wave of enthusiasm and popular support Monday to the White House, where he kicked off a two-day visit with President Barack Obama.
  • Secret Service head takes heat for WH breach
    WASHINGTON – Facing blistering criticism from Congress, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson acknowledged on Tuesday that her agency failed in executing its plan to protect the White House when a man with a knife entered the
Advertisement

Supreme Court affirms gun ban for domestic violence offenders

WASHINGTON – People convicted of minor domestic violence offenses can be barred from possessing guns even in states where no proof of physical violence is required to support the domestic violence charge, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The ruling was a victory for the Obama administration, gun control groups and advocates for victims of domestic abusers who say the gun ban is critical in preventing the escalation of domestic violence.

The justices unanimously rejected the argument put forth by gun rights groups and a Tennessee man who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault against the mother of his child in 2001. The man, James Castleman, was then charged in 2009 with illegal possession of a firearm after he and his wife were accused of buying guns and selling them on the black market.

Federal law bars a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving the use of physical force or a deadly weapon from possessing a firearm. But Castleman said he should not have to face the gun charges because the Tennessee law doesn’t specify that his domestic violence crime had to include physical force.

A federal judge agreed with Castleman and dismissed the charges because, he said, the victim could theoretically have been poisoned or tricked into injuring herself, which wouldn’t technically count as physical force. The dismissal was upheld, on different grounds, by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court and reinstated the charges against Castleman, in an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Writing for the court, Sotomayor said it was enough that Castleman pleaded guilty to having “intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to” the mother of his child.

“Because Castleman’s indictment makes clear that physical force was an element of his conviction, that conviction qualifies as a ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,’ ” Sotomayor said.

The Obama administration had argued that the lower court decisions would effectively nullify the gun ban in dozens of states where misdemeanor domestic violence laws don’t specify the degree of force needed for conviction. That would frustrate the intent of Congress, the administration argued, which was to keep firearms away from anyone found guilty of misdemeanor domestic violence.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, praised Wednesday’s ruling.

The case is U.S. v. Castleman, 12-1371.

Advertisement