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Supreme Court Issues Opinion on Straw Purchasers; Grants Cert on Threats Under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c)

Today, the Supreme Court decided Abramski v. United States (No.12-1493) and granted certiorari in Elonis v. United States (No. 13-983).

In Abramski, the Court held that a straw purchaser can be convicted under 18 U. S. C. §922(a)(6) for making false statements about “any fact material to the lawfulness of the sale” of a firearm, regardless of whether or not the true buyer could have purchased the gun without the straw.  For an analysis of the opinion see this SCOTUSblog post.

In Elonis, the questions presented are:

(1) Whether, consistent with the First Amendment and Virginia v. Black, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U.S.C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten, as required by the Ninth Circuit and the supreme courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont; or whether it is enough to show that a “reasonable person” would regard the statement as threatening, as held by other federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort; and (2) whether, as a matter of statutory interpretation, conviction of threatening another person under 18 U. S. C. § 875(c) requires proof of the defendant's subjective intent to threaten.

 

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