The Plural of Person is People

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13 Responses

  1. Ken says:

    Starting to read it. A few quick impressions from the dissents:

    1. Stevens is not a credible defender of stare decisis.

    2. This is incredibly stupid:

    In my view, there simply is no untouchable
    constitutional right guaranteed by the Second Amendment
    to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden
    urban areas.

    Because the right should only be protected in safe neighborhoods.

    "The law, in its majesty, prevents both the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges."

  2. Grandy says:

    Volokh getting hammered right now I presume; I can't even get the site to load.

    I don't read High-Lawyerish very well, alas. Still, skimming the early parts has been interesting.

  3. Stephen says:

    Patrick's link actually gives all 3 opinions. I was worried when I saw 157 pages and thought is was just the majority opinion…

    I always think it is interesting to see how the different Justices write. Makes it easier to remember these are just normal people (granted, very smart normal people) trying to explain themselves.

  4. Patrick says:

    My pro-respondent bias aside, Scalia's textual interpretation of the amendment, where he's generally at his most impressive, is far more compelling than that of the dissent, who seem to be arguing about something written in another document.

  5. RobF says:

    I caught that sentence from Ken's #2 in other coverage and did a double take as well. What an odd sentence. It can be read as stating that keeping loaded handguns in the house is one of the contributing factors to high-crime parts of the city and implying that doing so will only make the problem worse. Strangeness.

  6. Grandy says:

    I agree, Patrick. And I'll note I don't precisely have a dog in this fight. I prefer this outcome/environment, but I don't own any guns and probably won't ever and don't get that worked up about it (I grew up close to a couple of overly obnoxious die hard NRA types. It didn't turn me off of the position, but it's left me weary over the years).

    I particularly agree on the whole "first amendment enumerates collective rights, except where it doesn't, which is places that have no bearing on the 2nd amendment" argument from the dissent. Which seems like a really weak stab at trying to justify a platform position. I fail to see what good the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances does if it's only a collective right. It wouldn't help me if I got screwed by the government and nobody else in my community did. Petitions might be more meaningful when they come from groups, but it seems clear to me that they weren't intended to come soley from groups, and that the inherent merit of said petition is not based on the number of people bringing it.

  7. Patrick says:

    I don't believe Stevens does his moral position any favors by discussing Ku Klux Klan violence against unarmed black people at length.

  8. Patrick says:

    One of the key issues the case presented is left undecided: that of the level of "scrutiny" to be used in evaluating gun laws. Scalia doesn't say, though in a footnote attacking Breyer he makes clear that it isn't "rational basis" scrutiny, meaning that if there's any rational basis for the law it survives. In other words, rational basis is an "I win" button for the government.

    So it will be intermediate (a balancing test weighted against the government in favor of the individual) or strict scrutiny (where the government almost always loses, in layman's terms), or some hybrid, but that remains to be decided.

    Scalia in essence invites further litigation of the question.

  9. Ken says:

    The dissenters worrying that this casts all sorts of laws into doubt is almost as comical as Stevens worrying about stare decisis.

  10. Patrick says:

    Scalia's response to those who fret about, and those who want, the right to own a machine gun is here:

    It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

    No machine gun for you!

    It's as though he's baiting a generation of internet trolls with his common sense.

  11. Ezra says:

    I'm sad that they struck down the trigger locks as well. Doesn't the NRA support trigger locks?

  12. dbt1949 says:

    Mentally ill people have constitutional rights too!

    If mentally ill people cannot have guns how come I'm so well armed?

  13. Nickgb says:

    I'm still working on this one (I don't want to say anything too substantive until I've read it three times, which is usually good when Scalia or Stevens gets his teeth into something), but I wanted to make one point. Trigger locks are not per se unconstitutional under this decision. The problem is that the statute required trigger locks at all times within the home, so you couldn't take the lock off if an intruder broke in. The District concedes that such an exception existed in the common law, but Scalia declines to find such and invalidates the requirement for lacking that exception. A trigger lock requirement that allows use of the firearm in the home for self-defence might be Constitutional (and I think Scalia can't get five votes to the contrary, so he argued there was no exception).