MOCADSV Responds to SCOTUS Rulings and the Impact on Survivors
Post Date: July 25, 2023
Counterman V. Colorado
The Supreme Court of the United States decided in Counterman v. Colorado that the conviction of a Colorado man who received a four-and-a-half-year prison sentence for stalking would be thrown out. The implications of this court ruling will have impacts on how future stalking cases proceed, including jurisdictions requiring evidence that offenders understood the threatening nature of their communication.
Counterman was originally found guilty by the Colorado courts for stalking a singer-songwriter for several years. Some of his stalking tactics included sending unwanted messages over Facebook. These messages grew more threatening as the stalking continued. Counterman appealed the original case ruling and the Supreme Court found that the Colorado courts applied an incorrect test to the threats made by Counterman. SCOTUS decided that the Colorado courts needed to apply a recklessness standard. This type of standard would require evidence the speaker was aware recipients of their message would recognize the message as threats of violence and proceed to send anyway.
Stalking is defined in Missouri state statue as an individual engaging in conduct directed towards a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to be frightened, intimidated, or emotionally distressed under the circumstances of the individual’s actions. The law states that an individual has committed the offense of stalking in the first degree if they purposefully disturb another person with their actions. This conduct may include threats made that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or physically following an individual with the intent of causing them distress.
Victims of stalking already have difficulty in creating viable cases due to existing tests of statements as threats. The requirement that evidence must prove the recklessness standard further creates barriers in the accessibility of legal protections for stalking victims.
Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. V. President and Fellows of Harvard College
The decision from the Supreme Court of the United States in the case Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College will remove the use of affirmative action in college admission practices. Affirmative action is used in college admissions to promote diversity within student bodies. Removing affirmative action practices within college admissions will ultimately have damaging impacts on victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Inequality and oppression are large factors of why women of color experience higher rates of domestic and sexual violence. Oppressive behaviors from higher education institutions often prevent women of color from achieving educational goals that may promote financial stability. Poverty doesn’t automatically equate to domestic and sexual violence, but it is a factor to enabled abuse. The lack of personal financial stability can also be used to prevent a victim from leaving an abusive relationship.
303 Creative v. Elenis
The Supreme Court decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis found it constitutional for a website designer to refuse to provide website designing services to a same-sex couple. This ruling allows business owners providing customized messaging services to refuse to do business with same-sex or other couples.
The decision from the Supreme Court promotes discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. The normalization of discrimination and inequality makes it difficult for LGBTQ+ people to find accessible resources, especially accessible legal resources. Though there are a variety of programs accessible to LGBTQ+ people, lack of support in legal decisions can further make resources feel inaccessible.
U.S. V. Rahimi
The United States Supreme Court will review the decision in the case U.S v. Rahimi which was tried in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sought to dismantle federal law prohibiting individuals under a protective order for domestic violence from possessing firearms. SCOTUS will have the opportunity to set national standards for the safety of domestic and sexual violence victims.
The conclusion from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that domestic violence offenders under protective orders have the constitutional right to possess a firearm is dangerous. Perpetrators of violent crime who possess a firearm are more likely to kill their partner than perpetrators who do not. The long-standing federal law protects domestic violence victims and should continue to do so.
The U.S. v. Rahimi case will be heard in the United States Supreme Court later this year.