Lawyers, Guns and Money

By now all you Bill of Rights geeks out there know that the District of Columbia plans to ask that the Supreme Court grant certiorari in Parker v. District of Columbia (PDF, 75 pages), the case in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held (2-1) that: (1) the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms, notwithstanding the amendments “militia” language; (2) the right applies to D.C. residents even though the district isn’t a “state”; and (3) the district’s long-standing statutory handgun ban is unconstitutional. This is my “preview” entry.

The Supreme Court accepts only a small handful of cases each term, but the smart money says they’ll take this one. The debate over whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right, a collective right or something in between has been rolling on for decades. The last Supreme Court pronouncement — United States v. Miller — dates back to 1939, and can most charitably be described as perplexing. Both the “individual right” and the “collective right” folks cite Miller as authority for their side.

Here you’ll find a link to an article discussing Miller in great detail, from the facts of the case to the personalities of the participants to the decision itself. I can’t vouch for the article’s accuracy, but it’s a damn fine read.

You’ll find a ridiculously detailed Memorandum Opinion produced in 2004 by the U.S. Justice Department here (PDF, 107 pages). Not surprisingly, Bush’s boys come down on the individual right side. To the authors’ credit, though, they note that the vast majority of federal appellate court cases have adopted a collective right or quasi-collective right view.

There’ll no doubt be plenty more to say about this case in the coming months. For complete coverage, stay tuned to this here blog.

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