Bad News for Hunter Biden’s Appeal of Conviction as Supreme Court Narrows Gun Ruling

A ruling in favor of fewer gun restrictions may have helped the president’s son, Hunter Biden, in appealing his conviction.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Hunter Biden and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, arrive at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 10, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A Supreme Court ruling on a federal law blocking the gun rights of people subjected to domestic violence restraining orders could seriously undermine a potential appeal from the president’s son, Hunter Biden, of his recent conviction for lying about his drug use to buy a gun.

In an 8-1 decision in United States v. Rahimi, the high court ruled in favor of upholding a federal law that restricts the right to gun ownership for those under domestic abuse restraining orders.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that since its founding, “our nation’s firearm laws have included provisions preventing individuals who threaten physical harm to others from misusing firearms” and that this restriction “fits comfortably within this tradition.”

The decision could throw a wrench in the works for attorneys for Biden, who have been preparing a Second Amendment-focused argument to appeal his recent conviction for lying about his drug use on a form.

Currently, people buying guns are required to sign a federal form swearing that they are not using illegal drugs. Lying on this form is a felony. During Biden’s trial earlier this month, prosecutors successfully argued to the jury that Biden was actively addicted to crack when he bought a Colt Cobra revolver in 2018. Biden is expected to make his appeal based on the recent expansion of gun rights by the Supreme Court, and a ruling striking down the restriction on domestic abusers would have likely worked in his favor.

The executive director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law, Andrew Willinger, told CNN that a ruling striking down the restriction would have given Biden’s attorneys “a lot of ammunition” in their appeal.

A former Brooklyn homicide prosecutor and legal analyst, Julie Rendelman, tells the Sun that “the hope in the ruling was that it would protect and expand the protections — it did the opposite,” adding that “the ruling is that the protection of society could take precedence.”

Yet Ms. Rendelman stressed that the situations of Biden and the alleged domestic abuser who was the plaintiff in the case behind Friday’s decision, Zackey Rahimi, are distinct in that Biden was specifically charged with lying on a form about his drug use, and it’s not clear that an expansion of the Second Amendment would make it legal to lie.

“No matter what the ruling was, even if they had come down in favor of the Second Amendment, I still don’t think it would have helped him because he still lied on that form,” Ms. Rendelman says.

The case before the Supreme Court hinged on whether the law, which barred those under domestic violence restraining orders from owning guns, was constitutional.

The plaintiff, Rahimi, had been involved in multiple shootings and had been accused of beating his girlfriend when he admitted to authorities that he had weapons in his home, which was a violation of his restraining order.

The Supreme Court does have another case pending before it concerning the same law under which Biden was convicted. The case concerns a man, Patrick Daniels Jr., who was convicted of the crime after police found evidence of cannabis and two firearms in his car in a traffic stop.

Biden’s team tried, unsuccessfully, to have his case dismissed based on a ruling in Daniels’s favor at the Fifth Circuit, with his attorneys noting that “the lack of any historical precedent for disarming citizens based on their status of having used a controlled substance.”

While a ruling from the high court siding with Daniels could still potentially help Biden, the Rahimi ruling suggests the court may not be as likely to rule in that direction. Ms. Rendelman points out that, even if the restriction is overturned, Biden would still face the issue of having lied on a form.

The New York Sun

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