Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on 2nd Amendment Incorporation in McDonald, et al., v. Chicago

The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments from Alan Gura representing The Second Amendment Foundation, the NRA, and of course the plaintiff Otis McDonald in a groundbreaking Supreme Court case on the right to own a handgun. The city of Chicago restricts residents' right to own a handgun, arguing that the recently decided Heller case does not apply to the States or other local governments. Gura argues for the plaintiff that the Heller decision should be applied through the 14th Amendment's "privileges and immunities" clause, but the court appeared reluctant to accept this argument. They seemed much more amenable to incorporate the 2nd Amendment through the less complex "due process" guarantee of the 2nd Amendment. Existing Supreme Court precedent set in the Slaughterhouse case makes incorporation through the "privileges and immunities" clause troublesome, as any new decision using this argument would by necessity reverse Slaughterhouse.

SCOTUS Blog has a nice summary of today's arguments.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed poised to require state and local governments to obey the Second Amendment guarantee of a personal right to a gun, but with perhaps considerable authority to regulate that right. The dominant sentiment on the Court was to extend the Amendment beyond the federal level, based on the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “due process,” since doing so through another part of the 14th Amendment would raise too many questions about what other rights might emerge.

When the Justices cast their first vote after starting later this week to discuss where to go from here, it appeared that the focus of debate will be how extensive a “right to keep and bear arms” should be spelled out: would it be only some “core right” to have a gun for personal safety, or would it include every variation of that right that could emerge in the future as courts decide specific cases? The liberal wing of the Court appeared to be making a determined effort to hold the expanded Amendment in check, but even the conservatives open to applying the Second Amendment to states, counties and cities seemed ready to concede some — but perhaps fewer — limitations.

Click here to read a full summary from SCOTUS Blog

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