Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“They will come to learn in the end, at their own expense, that it is better to endure competition for rich customers than to be invested with monopoly over impoverished customers.”     Frederick Bastiat

March 16, 2008

D.C. v. Heller Comes To The Supreme Court

by Doug Mataconis

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court will hear argument in what is clearly the most important Second Amendment case in decades:

Despite mountains of scholarly research, enough books to fill a library shelf and decades of political battles about gun control, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity this week that is almost unique for a modern court when it examines whether the District’s handgun ban violates the Second Amendment.

The nine justices, none of whom has ever ruled directly on the amendment’s meaning, will consider a part of the Bill of Rights that has existed without a definitive interpretation for more than 200 years.

“This may be one of the only cases in our lifetime when the Supreme Court is going to be interpreting the meaning of an important provision of the Constitution unencumbered by precedent,” said Randy E. Barnett, a constitutional scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center. “And that’s why there’s so much discussion on the original meaning of the Second Amendment.”

The outcome could roil the 2008 political campaigns, send a national message about what kinds of gun control are constitutional and finally settle the question of whether the 27-word amendment, with its odd structure and antiquated punctuation, provides an individual right to gun ownership or simply pertains to militia service.

“The case has been structured so that they have to confront the threshold question,” said Robert A. Levy, the wealthy libertarian lawyer who has spent five years and his own money to bring District of Columbia v. Heller to the Supreme Court. “I think they have to come to grips with that.”

Perhaps recognizing the importance of the case, the Supreme Court Clerk will make complete audio of Tuesday’s hearing available at the Court’s website almost immediately after argument is concluded on Tuesday morning. The decision itself, of course, won’t come until some time late in the Court’s term, which ends in June.

Complete background on the case, including links to all of the briefs filed by the parties and various other organizations can be found at ScotusBlog’s wiki for the Heller case.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s about time that the court hears arguments in this case. We are guaranteed those rights by the constitution and so many radicals don’t want us to have them so that they can control us. Gun control has not worked anywhere’s else in the world where it has been implemented. Criminals do not care about laws only law abiding citizens care about laws. When will the government understand this, probably never?

    Comment by rundm — March 16, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

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