By Jonathon Blevins,
Legal Satyricon Second Amendment Correspondent
Today the Supreme Court handed down District of Columbia v. Heller. The background of the case is available here:
The agonizing 64 page decision can be found here:
To summarize Justice Scalia’s opinion, the Second Amendment plainly means what it says…The people (individual) has the right to keep and bear arms. The Court bridged the gap between gun nuts and regulation hippies by providing a laundry list of potential valid restrictions on firearm ownership, use, and storage. The case is seminal in its subject matter but limited in its power.
Heller is not the end of the story regarding the Second Amendment. The case simply means that DC’s absolute prohibition on firearms is unconstitutional and the individual has a “theoretical” right to keep and bear arms. The right is “theoretical” because the individual right to keep and bear arms is only applicable against the federal government. DC is a under federal law. Thus, the states may still restrict firearm ownership within its boundaries so long as it does not conflict with the ruling. The next step is incorporation via the Fourteenth Amendment. It is only a true right when we are ALL protected from state and federal intrusion.
While the Heller decision is a great day for individual rights and freedom lovers, it is a sad day for the “independent judiciary.” The Court was split 5-4. The rift was down the middle, conservatives v. liberals:
The issue split the court along conservative and liberal ideological lines, with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito in the majority. Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and David Souter dissented.
The highest court in the nation should be truly independent. One should be unable to predict the outcome of a case based on political ideology. However, the Court proved it is continually susceptible to outside pressure. The Court should rule on logic, reason, and precedent…NEVER donkey v. elephant…this is an issue for a later debate.
The First Amendment has some backup in the fire power of the Second Amendment.