Activist Judges Overturn Democratic Process Again
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court has overturned the D.C. handgun ban, thwarting the democratic process.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the District of Columbia cannot ban a citizen from keeping a handgun at home, throwing out one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws.
The Supreme Court has overturned Washington, D.C.’s strict gun ban.The 5-4 decision marks first time the court has ever definitively addressed the issue, which had been one of the great unresolved constitutional questions as experts debated whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and carry a gun, or only a state’s right to arm a militia.
The opinion isn’t up on the Supreme Court’s website as of the time of this writing, but I’m sure that conservatives will be quick to excoriate the flagrant judicial activism of the court in this case, while liberals will be defending the Court for upholding an individual right enshrined in the constitution.
Update: SCOTUSBlog has the opinion here. I haven’t time to do much but skim the summary, but it seems on first glance to be a good decision. The most interesting thing to me so far is that the Court declined to overturn U.S. v. Miller.
Update (James Joyner): I had planned to write something similar when the decision came down, since this was the expected result. Snark aside, while I think this is exactly the right interpretation of the 2nd Amendment — one can’t imagine that the Framers, so soon after gaining their independence in a war initially fought by people supplying their own weapons from their private cache meant merely to protect state-owned arms — it’s not a “conservative” decision in two senses. First, stare decisis would seem to have indicated the contrary ruling. Most recent precedent has been in favor of states and municipalities restricting firearms; the 2nd Amendment had previously been construed very narrowly. Second, as Alex suggests, it overturns the will of the people of DC as expressed through their elected representatives.
Update (Alex Knapp): I’ve now read the entire decision, and I think it provides a fair reading of the Second Amendment. The way I understand it, though, it doesn’t appear that most gun control laws are going to be at risk as a consequence of this ruling–just particularly onerous ones or outright bans of commonly used guns. And, as Dodd points out below, this opinion does not overturn Miller because Scalia does not find Miller to be incompatible with the Second Amendment, which is the view of a number of legal scholars as well.
It’s also worth pointing out that James is absolutely correct that this isn’t a “conservative” opinion, because the democratic process was, in fact, thwarted. Which goes to show the value of a republic over a democracy. We’re supposed to be living in the former.