Lawyers, Guns and Money VII

Amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs are coming in hot ‘n’ heavy in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Second Amendment case currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Briefs filed in support of the District are available here courtesy of the good folks at SCOTUSblog.

I haven’t read any of the briefs in detail, but the Brief for Professors of Linguistics and English caught my eye. The professors argue that “longstanding linguistic principles that were well understood and recognized at the time the Second Amendment was adopted” mandate the conclusion that:

[T]he “well regulated Militia” clause necessarily adds meaning to the “keep and bear Arms” clause by furnishing the reason for the latter’s existence. The first clause is what linguists call an “absolute construction” or “absolute clause.” It functions by melding the sentence “A well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State” together with the sentence “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed” to express this thought: “Because a well regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” On its face, the language of the Amendment tells us that the reason why the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed is because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free State. The purpose of the Second Amendment, therefore, is to perpetuate “a well regulated Militia.”

The profs also argue that “keep”, “bear” and “arms”, viewed in context and as an integrated whole,  unequivocally refer to military service. That, they say, provides further support for conclusion that the Second Amendment was all about “protect[ing] the right of the people to serve in a well regulated militia and keep arms for such service” as opposed to conferring some generalized right to keep and bear arms for any purposes.

This particular brief may be targeting Justices Scalia and Thomas, who profess to decide issues of constitutional law based on original intent/understanding.  If the brief is so targeted, the professors seem to be operating on the unstated premise that originalism is a principled methodology for constitutional adjudication. Boy, are they in for an ugly, disillusioning surprise.

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Comments

  • iT  On January 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    lol

  • Clutch  On January 17, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Well… at least it may help close one avenue of ruling against the District. Of course all such avenues would have to be closed in order for the Court to have no non-humiliating option to rejecting the challenge. And when push comes to shove I doubt that any pretext would be too intellectually humiliating for a majority on this Court. But forcing them to embarrass themselves nonetheless would be some sort of victory, at least.

  • genghishitler  On January 17, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    And when push comes to shove I doubt that any pretext would be too intellectually humiliating for a majority on this Court.

    lmao

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