Monday, June 16, 2014

A Very Brief, Cynical, Comment on Abramski v. United States

by Michael Dorf

A few minutes ago, the SCOTUS handed down Abramski v. United States. The Court holds that a person who falsely states on a federal form that he is purchasing a firearm for himself when he is actually purchasing it for someone else has made a "materially" false (and thus criminal) statement, even if the person for whom the firearm is really purchased is lawfully entitled to own firearms. I haven't looked at the issues closely enough to figure out what I think about the decision, but I will note that the Court divides 5-4 (with Justice Kennedy joining the liberals to make the majority).

Thus, with the exception of Justice Kennedy, the result exactly tracks the justices' respective views about the Second Amendment. That would be unremarkable if the dissenters thought that the law needed to be construed narrowly to avoid raising a constitutional issue under the Second Amendment, but they didn't. The disagreement between the majority and the dissent purports to be simply about statutory construction. (The dissenters do say that the law should be construed in favor of the defendant to reflect the rule of lenity, but that's not an explanation for the ideological divide, because in non-firearms contexts, liberals are at least as likely to favor the rule of lenity as are conservatives.)

To be sure, policy considerations frequently influence statutory construction too, and one sees that phenomenon at work in Abramski. For example, the majority says that the federal statute aims not only to keep guns out of the hands of persons ineligible to own them, but also to facilitate crime solving (and prevention) by enabling the government to keep track of whose guns were used in crimes. Etc.

Still, it's notable that at no point do the members of the majority come out and say "we favor gun control", nor do the dissenters say "we don't like gun control (except for keeping guns out of the Supreme Court building)." But those sorts of views are undoubtedly playing a very large role in Abramski. So score another point for the predictive power of simple-minded cynical legal realism.

24 comments:

Keith Kaplan said...

Shorter title: "Just because you could, doesn't mean you should".

Prosecution in this regard for a person obtaining a gift on behalf of someone else that MAY legally purchase the same firearm, is not at all what the statute was created to solve.

While I agree with your general post (re lenity), at a basic level, the same kind of decision making (interposing decisions on gun control in general) is going on among the prosecutors that choose to pursue these prosecutions.

Michael C. Dorf said...

Just to be clear: I don't read Keith Kaplan as disagreeing with me. First, I don't have a view as to whether the majority got it right. Second, even if the majority did get it right, KK is correct that a prosecutor could reasonably conclude that this is not the sort of case on which to use prosecutorial resources.

Howard Wasserman said...

Hasn't it always been thus in non-drug federal criminal law? Scalia and company in the past narrowly construed federal mail and wire fraud statutes to eliminate public corruption prosecutions or the public right to honest services. I believe Justice Stevens called them on this in dissent in one case many years ago.

Joe said...

"not at all what the statute was created to solve"

The opinion summarizes this as "to ensure the accuracy of those submissions" (that being those at point of sale) ... if so, providing fraudulent information to "legally" get a gun (read here to mean a gun the person legally an own) very well might be PART of what is involved here.

It is harder to regulate the sale of firearms if corners are cut by purchasers since the technicalities of the regulations "really don't matter" since the gun is not be transmitted to someone who should not have one.

At least, it seems quite possible to me, without a close reading of the statute and (the horror) legislative history of the "what" this law was intended to do as compared to what the text holds that it can do.

As to the OP, I think his cynicism is objectively reasonable, but it isn't totally clear. Scalia, e.g., has in past cases used text and the rule of leniency to advance things that don't merely support his constitutional vision. Kennedy is after all a member of the Heller majority. Alito's vote is the most suspicious here, perhaps.

Josh said...

Mike,

The application of the Rule of Lenity has not been so clear on a left-right divide (http://joshblackman.com/blog/2014/06/16/scalia-if-rule-of-lenity-doesnt-apply-we-should-stop-pretending-it-is-a-genuine-part-of-our-jurisprudence/). In fact, Scalia is the current Justice who cites the rule most often. A 2009 post on CoOps explores the Roberts Court and the Rule of Lenity: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2009/11/the-roberts-court-thus-far-and-the-rule-of-lenity.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ConcurringOpinions+%28Concurring+Opinions%29&utm_content=Google+Reader

Between February 2006 (when Justice Alito joined the Court) and the end of June 2009 (Justice Souter’s last day on the Court), the Roberts Court decided twenty-five cases that involved at least some interpretation of a criminal statute. In fourteen of those twenty-five cases (56%), the Court interpreted the statute in a manner that favored the defendant. In only six of the cases did the Court reference the Rule of Lenity—four times in dissent, one time in both the plurality opinion and the concurring opinion providing the fifth vote, and one time in a concurring opinion alone.

The two justices most likely to reference the rule of lenity (i.e., who exhibited the highest rates of reference to the rule over the relevant time period) were Justices Scalia and Stevens, each of whom referenced or joined an opinion referencing the rule in four1 of the twenty-five cases. Justice Ginsburg exhibited the next-highest rate of reference to the rule, invoking it or joining an opinion that invoked it in three2 of the cases; Justice Souter invoked or joined an opinion invoking the rule in two3 of the cases, while Justices Breyer, Roberts, and Thomas did so only once.4 Justices Alito and Kennedy did not reference or join an opinion referencing the rule of lenity in a single case during this time period.

I've also chronicled a number of opinions applying the rule here: http://joshblackman.com/blog/2011/06/09/does-the-rule-of-lenity-still-exist/

Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor would not apply it in DePierre v. US. http://joshblackman.com/blog/2011/06/09/does-the-rule-of-lenity-still-exist/

RBG did apply it in Skilling: http://joshblackman.com/blog/2010/06/24/instant-analysis-skilling-v-united-states/

奇堡比 said...

監聽器材
離婚諮詢
監聽手機
財產調查
電話監聽
網路詐欺
女人偷腥
肉體外遇
商業調查
信用調查
婚姻諮商
婚姻問題
老婆外遇
外遇處理
筆跡鑑定
挽回婚姻
老公偷腥
男人外遇
丈夫外遇
婚姻諮詢
感情諮詢
挽回感情
老婆偷腥
工商徵信
商標侵權
市場調查

喜洋洋 said...

二奶
捉姦
通姦
法律
捉猴
偵探
離婚
尋人
劈腿
第三者
監護權
贍養費
包二奶
婚外情
徵信所
徵信業
不倫戀
離婚證人
法律諮詢
感情挽回
私家偵探
外遇調查
大陸抓姦
徵信器材
背信
不忠

喜洋洋 said...

筆跡鑑定
挽回婚姻
老公偷腥
男人外遇
丈夫外遇
婚姻諮詢
感情諮詢
挽回感情
老婆偷腥
工商徵信
商標侵權
市場調查
財務顧問
法律問題
徵信相關
專利侵權
專業偵探
工商調查
優良徵信
外遇蒐證
討債公司
外遇徵信
外遇調查
婚前調查
老公外遇
太太外遇

Shak Olreal said...

Hasn't it always been thus in non-drug federal criminal law? Scalia and company in the past narrowly construed federal mail and wire fraud statutes to eliminate public corruption prosecutions or the public right to honest services. I believe Justice Stevens called them on this in dissent in one case many years ago. League of Legends Elo Boost
英雄联盟代练
Buy Elder Scrolls Online Gold
Buy WildStar Gold

奇堡比 said...

新女性徵信
外遇調查站
鴻海徵信
亞洲徵信
非凡徵信社
鳳凰徵信社
中華新女性徵信社
全國新女性徵信社
全省女人徵信有限公司
私家偵探超優網
女人感情會館-婚姻感情挽回徵信
女子偵探徵信網
女子國際徵信
外遇抓姦偵探社
女子徵信社
女人國際徵信
女子徵信社
台中縣徵信商業同業公會
成功科技器材
女人國際徵信社
女人國際徵信
三立徵信社-外遇
女人國際徵信
女人國際徵信
大同女人徵信聯盟
晚晴徵信

喜洋洋 said...

高雄縣徵信商業同業公會
南部徵信聯盟
外遇觀測站
大愛離婚諮詢網
離婚大剖析
大愛徵信有限公司
尋人專家徵信服務網
女人徵信公司
華陀徵信
離婚協助中心
跟蹤蒐證徵信器材網
抓姦觀測
大愛徵信
溫馨徵信
成功徵信社

Coach Factory said...

ray ban pas cher, beats by dre, mulberry, hollister, supra shoes, longchamp, wedding dresses, nfl jerseys, louis vuitton, lululemon, instyler ionic styler, north face jackets, roshe run, louis vuitton, mac cosmetics, giuseppe zanotti, mont blanc, ralph lauren, montre pas cher, louboutin, nike roshe, ralph lauren, rolex watches, reebok outlet, juicy couture outlet, abercrombie and fitch, hermes, hollister, oakley pas cher, nike huarache, burberry, birkin bag, karen millen, lancel, abercrombie and fitch, nike free, yoga pants, nike trainers, new balance shoes, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, ferragamo shoes, michael kors, air max, hogan, converse shoes, nike air max, vans, timberland, north face outlet

Coach Factory said...

canada goose outlet, canada goose outlet, moncler, ghd, gucci, cheap sunglasses, mcm handbags, bottega veneta, ugg boots, cheap oakley sunglasses, soccer jerseys, oakley sunglasses cheap, herve leger, soccer shoes, marc jacobs, moncler, canada goose, cheap oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, babyliss pro, insanity, oakley sunglasses cheap, moncler outlet, tn pas cher, oakley, cheap sunglasses, jimmy choo, oakley outlet, chi flat iron, valentino shoes, ugg, uggs on sale, moncler, ugg boots, p90x, oakley vault, canada goose, oakley sunglasses outlet, louboutin, asics, oakley outlet, canada goose, ralph lauren, canada goose, oakley sunglasses outlet, celine handbags, ugg boots, ray ban, oakley vault

Coach Factory said...

montre pas cher, ferragamo shoes, ray ban pas cher, new balance shoes, nike trainers, ralph lauren, reebok outlet, mac cosmetics, giuseppe zanotti, vans, supra shoes, north face outlet, louboutin, converse shoes, mulberry, wedding dresses, abercrombie and fitch, lululemon, hermes, roshe run, nike huarache, timberland, mont blanc, air max, karen millen, hollister, nike free, ralph lauren, louis vuitton, rolex watches, juicy couture outlet, hollister, nfl jerseys, beats by dre, yoga pants, louis vuitton, lancel, abercrombie and fitch, michael kors, longchamp, nike air max, hogan, oakley pas cher, north face jackets, birkin bag, burberry, louis vuitton, juicy couture outlet, instyler ionic styler, nike roshe

aminos lahragui said...




Very awesome post , i am really impressed with it a lot


فوائد الزنجبيل

فوائد الرمان

فوائد الحلبة

فوائد البصل

فوائد الزعتر

فوائد زيت السمسم

علاج البواسير

فوائد اليانسون

فوائد الكركم

قصص جحا

صور يوم الجمعه

علامات الحمل

تعريف الحب

حياة البرزخ

فوائد الزبيب

marly aaran said...

Hello, i am glad to read the whole content of this blog and am very excited and happy to say that the webmaster has done a very good job here to put all the information content and information at one place.
banditcustomauto.com |

amine lahragui said...

thanks so much for that great blog and thanks also for accepting my links thanks
طريقة عمل الدونات طريقة عمل البان كيك طريقة عمل الكنافة طريقة عمل البسبوسة طريقة عمل الكيك طريقة عمل عجينة البيتزا فوائد القرفه

aminos lahragui said...



thanks so much i like very so much your post
حلى الاوريو الفطر الهندي صور تورته حلى قهوه طريقة عمل السينابون طريقة عمل بلح الشام بيتزا هت كيكة الزبادي حلا سهل صور كيك عجينة العشر دقائق

amy ryan said...

This is really a nice and informative, containing all information and also has a great impact on the new technology. Thanks for sharing it
travel-kyouto.com |

Guo Guo said...

guowenhao20150326
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet
jordan 4
prada shoes
louis vuitton handbags
timberland shoes
hollister pas cher
tod's sale
nhl jerseys wholesale
kate spade handbags
beats by dre
prada outlet
kate spade uk
prada handbags
ray ban
louis vuitton outlet
abercrombie
new balance shoes
burberry outlet
coach outlet
tods outlet
adidas wings
coach outlet online
toms shoes
foamposite gold
lacoste outlet
adidas shoes
christian louboutin
kate spade outlet
tiffany and co jewelry
michael kors canada
toms shoes outlet online
lululemon
giuseppe zanotti outlet
kobe 9 elite
michael kors handbags
converse outlet
michael kors outlet
foamposite shoes
michael kors outlet

Guo Guo said...

guowenhao20150430calvin klein outlet
swarovski crystal
links of london
michael kors outlet
burberry outlet online
lacoste outlet
ray ban sunglasses
nba jerseys
ray ban wayfarer
michael kors handbags
mac makeup
kobe bryants shoes
michael kors outlet
tods outlet
toms shoes
ray ban uk
ray ban sunglasses
coach factory outlet
celine outlet
adidas wings
marc jacobs outlet
abercrombie and fitch
timberland boots
true religion outlet
michael kors factory outlet
coach outlet store online
instyler
louboutin shoes
beats solo
nike roshe run
ray ban sunglasses
air force one shoes
ray ban sale
herve leger dresses
michael kors outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
salvatore ferragamo
michael kors handbags
cheap toms
mcm bags

Shijun Lin said...

shijun 5.20
celine bags
gucci outlet online
polo ralph lauren
michael kors
gucci outlet online
oakley frogskins
running warehouse
louboutin
christian louboutin
air jordans
polo ralph lauren
christian louboutin
chanel no 5
true religion sale
michael kors outlet online sale
prada sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
gucci outlet
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors
concord 11
cheap oakleys
mont blanc pen
jordan retro 11
gucci handbags
michael kors outlet
jordan 11s
ray ban glasses
abercrombie store new york
toms canada
polo outlet
kate spade outlet
jordan 11 columbia
jordan 11s
cheap jerseys
coach outlet
coach outlet store online

chenlina said...

chenlina20150604
michael kors outlet
lululemon
michael kors outlet
jordan 13 shoes
air max uk
michael kors
hollister clothing
michael kors handbags
michael kors outlet
ray ban wayfarer
hollister clothing
gucci bags
coach outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban outlet
coach outlet
michael kors
louis vuitton
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet online
lv outlet
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet online
nike air max
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban sunglass
prada uk
gucci shoes
louis vuitton
mont blanc
www.louisvuitton.com
abercrombie store
ralph lauren sale
jordan 11 snakeskin
oakley outlet
louis vuitton
ray ban glasses
michael kors outlet
chanel uk
coach factory outlet

Guo Guo said...

guowenhao20150605
mcm bags
new york jets jerseys
tory burch outlet online
timberland shoes
roshe run men
lacoste shirts
oakley sunglasses
boston celtics jersey
chanel handbags
swarovski crystal
hermes birkin
iphone 6 plus cases
louis vuitton outlet
prada outlet
michael kors handbags
burberry outlet online
abercrombie and fitch
tods shoes
abercrombie
converse all star
lacoste outlet
denver broncos jerseys
air jordan shoes
adidas outlet
adidas shoes
nike running shoes
marc jacobs outlet
seattle seahawks jerseys
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
kate spade handbags
ray ban sunglasses
hermes belt
insanity
converse shoes
mcm handbags
lebron james shoes
gucci outlet
calvin klein underwear
louis vuitton outlet