In District of Columbia v. Heller, the hotly-anticipated case over the D.C. gun ban, a 5-4 majority affirmed the D.C. Circuit’s ruling that the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns violated the Second Amendment. The majority opinion was written by Justice Scalia. Justices Breyer and Stevens wrote dissents. (Here’s the opinion.)
E.J. Dionne comments in A Court of Radicals:
In knocking down the District of Columbia’s 32-year ban on handgun possession, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court have shown again their willingness to abandon precedent in order to do whatever is necessary to further the agenda of the contemporary political right.
The court’s five most conservative members have demonstrated that for all of Justice Antonin Scalia’s talk about “originalism” as a coherent constitutional doctrine, the judicial right regularly succumbs to the temptation to legislate from the bench. They fall in line behind whatever fashions political conservatism is promoting.
Conservative justices claim that they defer to local authority. Not in this case. They insist that political questions should be decided by elected officials. Not in this case. They argue that they pay careful attention to the precise words of the Constitution. Not in this case.
...In his intemperate dissent in the court’s recent Guantanamo decision, Scalia said the defense of constitutional rights embodied in that ruling meant it “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” That consideration apparently does not apply to a law whose precise purpose was to reduce the number of murders in the District of Columbia.
Also see: Justices Rule for Individual Gun Rights - N.Y. Times
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto