Case Analysis of US v. Emerson
This case deals with the Defendant's possession of a firearm while under a restraining order, and the charges incurred by the Defendant for such firearm possession. Under Texas law, the possession of a firearm by Mr. Emerson creates a perceivable threat to members of his family, thus creating a violation of the restraining order against him. Apparently common practice in Texas, the restraining order was filed by Mr. Emerson's wife in conjunction with the papers filed for divorce. The restraining order sought to enjoin Emerson from "engaging in various financial transactions to maintain the financial status quo and from making threatening communications or actual attacks upon his wife during the pendency of the divorce proceedings" (United 1). Under Texas law, unbeknownst to Mr. Emerson, the possession of a firearm during the time period of the restraining order constituted a direct violation of the restraining order, and Mr. Emerson was indicted on charges of such violation.
District Court Analysis
Mr. Emerson was indicted in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, San Angelo Division, on charges of violation of the restraining order filed against him. Possession of a firearm was in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) (hereafter referred to as "the Act"). This statute states that:
(g) It shall be unlawful for any person
(8) who is subject to a court order that
(A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
(B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
(C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or
(ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury(United 2)
Under this statute, especially sections B, C.i., and C.ii., Mr. Emerson's possession of a firearm was construed as a perceivable threat to his family and, therefore, a direct violation of the restraining order. Mr. Emerson argued that the Act is "an unconstitutional exercise of congressional power under the Commerce Clause and the Second, Fifth, and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution" (United 2). The District Court addressed each claim separately, finding credibility in only Emerson's Second and Fifth Amendment claims.
In Emerson's claim that the Commerce Clause was violated, he argued that the Act did not regulate commercial activity, and was therefore an unconstitutional use of congressional power. In claiming this, Emerson looked to the Supreme Court's...