All Eyes on the Supreme Court

Tue, June 29, 2010

Democrats, Republicans

It looks like it’s all SCOTUS all the time this summer — Justice John Paul Stevens is going, Solicitor General Elena Kagan is (most likely) joining, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is grieving, the Senate is attacking the late civil rights leader Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Justice Samuel Alito (and the rest of the Court’s uber-conservative activist majority) have pronounced that state and local gun ban laws are unconstitutional because the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is “among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”

Remind me not to go by Justice Alito’s house on Halloween in case he comes to the door packing heat with his bowl of Hershey miniatures.

Seriously, though, as a recovering attorney and someone who loves the Constitution, I have to ask — have Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas or Kennedy ever hung out in their Supreme Court neighborhood or other Washington, D.C. inner city neighborhoods after dark?  Because if they’ve spent even the least little time doing that, their view of guns might be a little different.

Many conservatives are applauding the gun decision, claiming that the Supreme Court’s announcement in McDonald vs. The City of Chicago once and for all settles the question about what the Founding Fathers wanted when it came to citizens and firearms.  But doesn’t it make sense to look at a provision about owning and carrying guns in the light of when it was penned — in the immediate aftermath of gaining our independence as a direct result of a bloody war and the reasonable fear that the King of England just might be toying with the idea of sending troops again to take back what he believed was rightfully his.  If the same men who chimed in to create the Constitution were around today — in the time of ever-increasing senseless gun deaths that haven’t been curbed by owner registration or restrictions — I have to believe that they’d be okay with gun control laws that would keep guns away from those who have no problems with drive-by shootings or taking aim at someone over a cheap bracelet.

Maybe if we had Founding Father Zombies (like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) or Constitutional Writer Vampires (like Little Women and vampires) they could clue us in to what they were really thinking in 1787 and whether they would still agree today that everyone ought to have a gun to ensure “ordered liberty.”  If there wasn’t more to it than that, we wouldn’t need all those other words they put in the Constitution, including the ones about preserving domestic tranquility.

The full language of the Second Amendment reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Unless we’re thinking of bringing back the citizen militia, it seems to me those so-called Supreme Court “strict constructionists” were just doing a big old favor for the National Rifle Association and nothing for domestic tranquility or ordered liberty.

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7 Responses to “All Eyes on the Supreme Court”

  1. Rebekah Says:

    I am just sick about this decision. The current popular interpretation of the “right to bear arms” seems to be to be a consumerism-driven desire to bear the fanciest, most up-to-the-minute firearms available, much as there’s a consumerism-driven desire to own fancy television sets or fancy cars. It is perpetrated by a gun industry that wishes to profit (and by the NRA which seems to be acting in the interest of the profit-driven gun industry as much as in the interest of so-called 2nd Amendment constructionists)by manipulating the greed mindset of Americans as well as by manipulating their fears. In other words, people want guns, bigger guns, better bullets, more accurate sights, what have you, to allay a fear of attack that may or may not be grounded in reality. People *like* owning guns. Manufacturers like selling guns even more. Neither group likes being told by states and localities that guns require moderation and restraint. I can only hope that at some point, calmer heads who don’t regard guns as consumer status symbols for the fearful and vengeful will reconsider this decision. Until then, I hope I can stay safe from gun-holders.

  2. Dennis McDonald Says:

    The group most immediately endangered by this decision will be our police.

  3. PunditMom Says:

    Rebekah, I actually hadn’t thought about it from that perspective, but it’s an interesting perspective and I’m sure it definitely plays into the whole debate.

    Dennis, you are totally right. I really fear for law enforcement officials as we may well see more concealed weapons, and have to wonder how this will cause inadvertent police shootings to increase — if the police have to be worried more than ever that everyone may have a gun, how does that change their reaction to certain situations?

  4. Chris Wysocki Says:

    Justice Alito is a very nice man. He lives several blocks from me, and my neighbor coached his daughter in lacrosse. He’ll probably be at the annual July 4th Ice Cream Social in town, stop by and and I’ll introduce you.

    On Halloween he hands out little pocket copies of The Federalist Papers with every Hershey bar.

    (OK, that was a joke.)

    Speaking to the gun control issue, @Dennis, the police are already in danger. The gun control laws haven’t kept dangerous weapons out of the hands of criminals. But they do needlessly inconvenience law abiding citizens.

    @Rebekah – you have nothing to fear from legal gun owners. Really.

    On the Constitutional question, the citizen “militia” envisioned by the Founders wasn’t just to guard against the King changing his mind (although he did for a brief moment in 1812). It is to guard against all forms of tyranny, foreign or domestic. You need only look to Zimbabwe and other failed states where private gun ownership is prohibited to see the inevitable subjugation of a disarmed populace.

  5. PunditMom Says:

    I’m sure Justice Alito is a nice man. I’m sure they’re all nice people in person — and Justice Roberts lives not too far from me. But I think it’s OK to disagree with people, whether they’re nice or not.

  6. Juliana Says:

    It’s really disheartening and downright scary to see where this is going. The gun advocates just don’t seem to think that there should be any – any – constraints on gun ownership – pistol, rifle, machine gun, bazooka, RPG, cannon. They seem to feel that any constraint is a slippery slope to pry their guns from them. how can we ever reconcile that?

  7. PunditMom Says:

    Juliana, That has always been a scary thing for me — the feeling that because of the Second Amendment, there shouldn’t be any restrictions. It also troubles me that so many gun supporters think that more guns make us safer than fewer guns.


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