(CNN) The Justice Department on Friday asked the Supreme Court to expedite its review of a recent Court of Appeals ruling that found a federal law prohibiting gun ownership by persons under domestic violence restraining orders to be unconstitutional.
“The presence of a firearm in a home with a domestic abuser increases the risk of murder six-fold,” US Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in her petition on Friday, urging the Supreme Court to decide whether to take up the case before its summer recess .
The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in February that the 1996 law was unconstitutional, and while the ruling applies only to Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, proponents fear it will have far-reaching implications, including preventing victims from to report.
The district court cited the important Second Amendment ruling, made by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court last year, which provided a new test for lower courts to analyze the constitutionality of a gun ordinance.
Prelogar told the Supreme Court Friday that the Fifth Circuit Court’s reasoning was wrong and that the Supreme Court should take up the case “so that it may correct the misinterpretation of Bruen’s Fifth Circuit Court,” citing the Supreme Court’s opinion Court of Justice last summer.
The Supreme Court’s majority opinion in June said that part of the test was whether a gun restriction paralleled the rules in force at the time the constitution was drafted.
The 5th federal court, earlier this year in its opinion on gun restrictions for domestic violence, said the ban on alleged perpetrators lacked that kind of historical parallel and was therefore unconstitutional.
If the “5th Circuit approach were applied universally,” Prelogar wrote, “few modern statutes would survive judicial review; after all, most modern gun regulations differ from their historical ancestors in at least some respects.”
At the time of the district court’s ruling, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that Congress passed the gun ban law “almost 30 years ago” and signaled the department’s plan to appeal the ruling.
“Whether analyzed through the lens of Supreme Court precedent or the text, history and tradition of the Second Amendment, this law is constitutional. Accordingly, the ministry will seek further review of the fifth district’s opposing decision,” he said.
Guns are used to commit nearly two-thirds of intimate partner killings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. A 2021 study found that most mass shootings are also linked to domestic violence.
Though some of the states covered by the appeals court have similar state restrictions, the new ruling undermines a crucial tool survivors have to protect themselves from their abusers. If the logic of the 5th federal court were adopted nationwide by the US Supreme Court, the consequences would be devastating, proponents say.
“People will know their abuser still has their gun. They will continue to live in absolute, abject fear,” said Heather Bellino, CEO of the Texas Advocacy Project, which works with victims of domestic violence. “They’re going to be scared of getting a protective order because that gun isn’t going away now.”