Lawyers, Guns and Certiorari
The Supreme Court may again be ready -- after an interval of 68 years -- to tackle a Second Amendment case that touches upon the core of the relationship between guns, people and the law. On Friday morning, the justices will consider whether to accept for review District of Columbia v. Heller, a case widely watched and followed by advocates on both sides of this debate.
As it tries to convince the justices to overturn a lower court ruling and to reinstate its ban on the possession and registration of handguns, the District of Columbia states the question raised by its case succinctly: "Whether the Second Amendment forbids the District of Columbia from banning private possession of handguns while allowing possession of rifles and shotguns." Dick Heller and Co., meanwhile, are asking the justices to affirm the lower-court ruling by determining that the Second Amendment guarantees to citizens the right to a "functional firearm." It's a dispute that has the potential to generate a Second Amendment ruling for the ages.
And ages it's been since the court last mustered up the courage to confront the peculiar language of the Second Amendment. The last time the justices tried to dissect the meaning of the amendment, Hitler had not yet invaded Poland and Ted Williams was in his first month playing baseball. It was May 15, 1939, and the Rooseveltian Court issued a unanimous ruling against two gun owners who had carried a shotgun across state lines in violation of a federal gun registration law.
Unfortunate for those now-long-gone gun owners. And unfortunate for us because the justices back then were unable or unwilling to truly offer a comprehensive analysis of the scope of the amendment. Does it create an individual right to bear arms that cannot be regulated away by Congress? Does it apply only to federal laws? Does it apply only to militias? Who has standing -- the legal right to sue -- in such cases? Does it matter that the regulation at issue here comes from the District of Columbia, which is technically neither a state nor the "federal government"?
The list of questions is endless. And thus so are the ways in which our modern-day justices could both resolve the case and duck the central question about the scope of the amendment. No matter what the final result, I'm hoping the court will take the case and then issue a substantive ruling. It's time we heard what the Supreme Court says about this area of the law, and time the justices modernized an outdated and unworkable Second Amendment analysis.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: | November 6, 2007 11:18 AM
Posted by: DR. O | November 6, 2007 11:37 AM
Posted by: William Smith | November 6, 2007 12:40 PM
Posted by: Robert James | November 6, 2007 03:16 PM
Posted by: Tom Nystel | November 6, 2007 03:52 PM
Posted by: Mark in Austin | November 6, 2007 11:07 PM
Posted by: Al | November 7, 2007 09:09 AM
Posted by: James K. | November 7, 2007 10:34 AM
Posted by: J Van Wyk | November 7, 2007 12:03 PM
Posted by: Greg | November 7, 2007 02:07 PM
Posted by: Andy | November 7, 2007 02:24 PM
Posted by: | November 21, 2007 11:50 AM