In a five to four decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the protections of the Second Amendment are binding on the states. Justice Alito wrote for the majority, where four justices agreed that it was binding based on the due process clause, and Justice Thomas concurred, but based the conclusion on the privileges or immunities clause.
This is a huge decision. The Court, by incorporating the Second Amendment into the 14th Amendment, has stated loudly and clearly that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental one. In practical terms, the ruling means no city or state can ban handgun ownership, as Chicago did. No doubt, Chicago’s argument that its ban improved public safety wasn’t real persuasive.
I’ll update this article with links to the best commentary on the web as the day progresses. Stay tuned. My original post (at 8:30 a.m.) advised readers to ” please read the opinion linked above, even if you’re not a lawyer.” Well, now that I’ve read a bit of it, it’s pretty in the weeds stuff – and all the opinions combined total a whopping 214 pages. I’m awaiting the executive summaries from the legal geniuses at the Volokh Conspiracy.
As Elena Kagan heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee today, one thing is clear. We have a one vote balance on the Court in favor of protecting constitutional freedoms. Without a new GOP President in 2012, these protections will be gone. It’s that simple.
Update 10:40 a.m. – A hilarious concurring opinion by my former law professor, Justice Scalia. After majority obligingly calls Justice Stevens’ dissent “eloquent,” Nino Scalia rips into same at p.52 of the pdf page of the SCOTUS document linked above. He calls Stevens’ reasoning contrary to American traditions.
Sadly, Justice Ginsberg’s husband just passed away. Everything I’ve heard about her is that she is a good person, and is very close friends with Justice Scalia. Our prayers are with her and her family.
Update 12:35 p.m. – Am pleased to see that even the true legal geniuses have not yet gotten through lengthy opinions in the McDonald case. Here is the post from Volokh, with now 78 comments. No real analysis of the case, but the case is straightforward as I’ve summarized above. The commenters at Volokh are typically among the most thoughtful and articulate on the web on anything legal/political.
Update 5:30 p.m. – Great podcast by Colorado’s own Second Amendment guru, Dave Kopel. Courtesy, the Volokh Conspiracy. Dave submitted an amicus brief in the case, which was cited by Justice Alito. Kopel’s brief focused on an empirical analysis that showed crime had increased in the windy city on account of the ban.