Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller Affirmed

I'm sure most of you have heard by now that the Supreme Court upheld Heller today:

Silent on central questions of gun control for two centuries, the Supreme Court found its voice Thursday in a decision affirming the right to have guns for self-defense in the home and addressing a constitutional riddle almost as old as the republic over what it means to say the people may keep and bear arms.

The court's 5-4 ruling struck down the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and imperiled similar prohibitions in other cities, Chicago and San Francisco among them. Federal gun restrictions, however, were expected to remain largely intact.

You can download the full opinion here and read quotes from the majority.  In the minority, Justice Stevens' dissent had quite a few errors in it

Here is coverage from the New York Times.

Predictably on both counts, McCain sees this as a major victory for gun owners while Obama straddles the issue.

Megan McArdle shares a few thoughts:

1) At least one good thing has come out of the Bush presidency. Let's hope this blow for individual rights outlasts the executive power grab. I think the Bush administration genuinely believes that the executive should have more power. I also think they're desperately, hopelessly wrong. But of course, since I think all government officials should have rather less power, I would say that, wouldn't I?

2) It's a little sobering to reflect what this decision might have looked like if Michael Bellesiles' work hadn't been so humiliatingly and thoroughly unmasked as a fraud. As it is, the dissenters apparently argue that this is overweening judicial activism, even though everything I know and have read about the crafting of the amendment makes a collective right interpretation pretty untenable.

3) The lack of a court ruling on the question of an individual right to bear arms has been a gaping hole in American constitutional jurisprudence for too long. Thankfully, it's settled. Double thankfully, it's correctly settled.

4) There is a distressing lack of attention to the female market in gun companies. I want something with accuracy and stopping power, but also, an attractive exterior casing that easily integrates with my other accessories. This doesn't seem unreasonable.

She also wonders why don't feminists encourage more gun ownership among women?

Interestingly, Obama is up in the prediction markets.  I wonder if today's decision had some effect?

By re-affirming that Americans have a right to own guns for self-defense and hunting, the court effectively takes the gun issue out of the fall campaign. Republicans will now have a very hard time arguing that if you elect Democrats they will take away your guns.

Mike O'Shea shares his thoughts and there is lots of discussion on The Volokh Conspiracy.  The Wall Street Journal sizes up the immediate effect of Heller on D.C.

Legal Theory Blog has an in-depth analysis of the decision and a roundup of reactions from around the blogosphere.

Incidentally, the man responsible for me going to law school helped also helped bring Heller to the Supreme Court.

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