Cook v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: October 7, 2019
  • Case #: 18-9707
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 914 F.3d 545 (7th Cir. 2019)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether § 922(g)(3) is unconstitutionally vague under the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

Petitioner was convicted under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(3), which prohibits an “unlawful user” of a “controlled substance” from possessing a firearm. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that § 922(g)(3) is unconstitutionally vague. The district court denied the motion. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Seventh Circuit. Petitioner argued that the facial challenge standard applicable in First Amendment and Due Process Clause cases should also apply to § 922(g)(3) because it is a restriction to the Second Amendment. The court affirmed, ignoring Petitioner’s Second Amendment argument and holding that § 922(g)(3) is not subject to facial vagueness challenges. The court relied on Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2251 (2015), in which the Supreme Court held that facial challenges are only permitted in “non-First Amendment cases” when the statute at issue has no “core” conduct. The Court also held that § 922(g)(3) has the requisite core conduct: habitual, recreational use of a controlled substance. Because Petitioner fits within that prohibited core conduct, The Seventh Circuit found that “although § 922(g)(3) may be vague in other circumstances, it is not vague as applied to the petitioner.” Petitioner asks the Court to resolve the inherent uncertainty resultant from a case-by-case analysis on the status of Second Amendment rights under § 922(g)(3). The Court granted certiorari and issued an order to vacate the judgment and remand to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for further consideration in light of Rehaif v. United States, 588 U. S. ___ (2019). VACATED and REMANDED.

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