Lawyers, Guns and Money III

Parties who win in a lower court will usually move heaven and earth to keep a higher court from reviewing the decision. That’s pretty accurate as a general rule, but it’s less applicable to the Supreme Court of the United States, where advocacy groups regularly vie to make their take on important issues the supreme law of the land.

Background on the District of Columbia gun ban case is available here and here.  To sum up, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled earlier this year that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to keep and bear arms, a right independent of militia membership. The court also ruled that the District’s decades-old handgun ban violated that right.

The District has asked SCOTUS to review the case, and the prevailing parties — D.C. residents who challenged the ban — filed their response brief (pdf, 43 pages) yesterday. In essence they’re saying, “Fuck yeah! By all means! Take this case! Pretty please!” From the brief’s Summary of Argument section:

Respondents welcome Petitioners’ effort to have this Court review the nature of Second Amendment rights. This case presents the Court a unique opportunity to correct a persistent misconception that the people do not actually enjoy a right that is specifically enumerated in the Constitution. “The people” – individuals in our country – retain the right to keep and bear arms.

Smart money still says that the Court will accept the case and adopt some version of the individual rights model of the Second Amendment.

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  • Clutch  On October 5, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    So, when the smart money so says, should lower-court losers just suck it up and hope that when the next SCJ dies or retires, there isn’t a bunch of complete fucking ninnies in charge of the White House?

  • genghishitler  On October 8, 2007 at 7:00 am

    That sort of thing isn’t unheard of at the state level. When the insurance industry buys itself a state supreme court, as happens with appalling regularity, plaintiffs PI lawyers in that state will do what they can to make the court irrelevant. That often includes refusing to appeal adverse lower court decisions.

    That’s not really an option for DC, though. District officials really want to keep that handgun law in effect, and the only way to do that is by asking SCOTUS to reverse the D.C. Circuit.

    There are enough ways the District court win this case to make the effort worthwhile, complete fucking ninnies notwithstanding. The argument that the Second Amendment issue is irrelevant because D.C. isn’t a state at least passes the straight face test. Also, the District could lose the individual right-collective right battle and still win the war. All individual rights are subject to some constitutionally permissible infringement. If SCOTUS adopts some sort of individual rights model, they’ll still have to decide whether the law in question actually violates that right, along with the related issue of how closely firearms laws should be scrutinized.


  • […] Lawyers, Guns and Money IV Briefing on the District of Columbia’s request for U.S. Supreme Court review of a lower court decision holding that the District’s handgun law violates the Second Amendment is now complete. D.C. filed its reply brief (pdf, 20 pages) yesterday. Prior SCD entries on the case are available here, here and here. […]

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