Ian Millhiser’s confusion: Is the Rahimi case really about arming domestic abusers?

Daylight! Hangover! #facepalm" by whatleydude is marked with CC BY 2.0 DEED.

Growing up in India, I remember watching Hollywood movies in which the police read a suspect his Miranda warning as they arrested him. That was a quaint and odd practice that cops in most countries don’t do. When I looked up the history of the Miranda warning, I was shocked by the circumstances in which it was born. The case behind this was Miranda v. Arizona, and Ernesto Miranda, eponymous to the case, was a violent individual who kidnapped and raped an 18-year-old woman.


The judiciary often has to grapple with cases involving unsympathetic parties. Ernesto Miranda is a classic example of an unsympathetic party. The job of the judiciary is to ensure that the government stays true to the Constitution, regardless of what the public thinks of an accused or the underlying crimes that gave rise to a case in the first place. In the case of the rapist Ernesto Miranda, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments guaranteed him a right against self-incrimination, a right to counsel, and a right to a speedy, public trial by an impartial jury, including confronting witnesses against him and calling witnesses in his favor.

The founding documents of this country include strong due process protections for a reason. The Founding Fathers experienced tyranny at the hands of King George III, and wanted to ensure that the government they founded after an insurrection wouldn’t be like the one they overthrew. Every American is afforded a presumption of liberty that stands until the government can impartially prove guilt. That is a humanist approach that’s in stark contrast to the barbarism of history.

Those who call themselves liberals typically understand all this, but when it comes to guns, they are happy to toss the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights out the door, whether it’s the First, Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments. The latest in this line of “but OMG guns!” is Vox legal correspondent Ian Millhiser, who has a J.D., magna cum laude, from Duke University, where he also served on the Duke Law Journal (archived links):


In case you weren’t aware of what’s going on, there’s a big case – US v. Rahimi – that involves a man named Zackey Rahimi who is a Wanted poster child like Ernesto Miranda. Here’s a quick summary of Rahimi’s behavior as a model citizen (archived links):

Zackey Rahimi was involved in five shootings in and around Arlington, Texas, between December 2020 and January 2021, including shooting into the residence of an individual to whom he had sold narcotics; shooting at another driver after a wreck, fleeing, returning in a different vehicle, and shooting again at the other driver’s car; shooting at a constable’s car; and shooting into the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at Whataburger (I am not making that last one up). Arlington police identified Rahimi as a suspect in the shootings and executed a warrant on his home, where they found a rifle and a pistol. Rahimi was at that time under a Texas state court civil protective order for an allegation of assault family violence, the terms of which expressly prohibited him from the possession of a firearm, which is (or was) a federal crime.


The optics of the case are clearly bad; still, Ian Millhiser’s simpleton summary of the case is flat-out wrong. The question in this case is whether someone accused of domestic abuse can be stripped of an enumerated right without the due process of law. The Constitution permits depriving dangerous people of their life, liberty, and property including guns, but not without procedural protections.

The statute being challenged in this case is so broad and ripe for abuse that three separate groups of public defenders have stepped in with amicus briefs to point out the constitutional dangers involved.

Millhiser’s dishonest and disingenuous description of the case could have been applied in the past to stoke similar outrage. Was the Miranda case about letting a rapist off the hook on a technicality? Were the ACLU lawyers who argued on behalf of the free speech rights of Nazis in the Skokie case or the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) sociopaths? What about those who supported the free speech rights of communists to burn the American flag in Texas v. Johnson? The Rahimi case also draws due process parallels to cases from the Global War on Terror, namely Rasul v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and Boumediene v. Bush. Is it sociopathic behavior to demand that terrorists get due process before they’re deprived of their life, liberty, and property?


The Constitution is still the Constitution, and even the worst among us deserve their rights. Millhiser’s misrepresentation is part of a massive left-wing media campaign to smear the Supreme Court. When the decision comes down, I am expecting the likes of Millhiser to write headlines saying that “Justice Thomas thinks that domestic abusers have a right to murder their wives with guns.” It’s a given. All that we can do in the meantime is make sure the truth is ready with its boots on before the lies travel halfway around the world.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member