Skip to comments.Why You Should Care About Parker v. District of Columbia
Posted on 05/02/2007 2:14:58 PM PDT by neverdem
There is a case working its way to the Supreme Court that might settle one of the biggest unanswered questions in constitutional law: Does the Second Amendment guarantee an individual right to own a gun? Whether or not you own a gun, this is a case you should care about.
Im not just saying that because Im the immediate past president of the National Rifle Association. (Last month I completed my two-year term as president and nine years as an officer of the NRA.) Im also saying it as an attorney whos been arguing cases in federal court for more than 30 years, and who understands how a clear precedent on a constitutional question can determine the outcome of a case.
There is a case moving towards the High Court that will likely give us such a precedent on your right to own a gun a precedent that is either good or bad, depending on your point of view. That case is Parker v. District of Columbia.
I often get asked why there is such a passionate debate on whether the right to own a firearm is a civil right. Everyone agrees that the Constitution speaks about firearms. The Second Amendment speaks of, the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
The disagreement is over what those words mean. Most people believe what is called the individual rights view of the Second Amendment, meaning that all law-abiding, peaceable citizens have the individual right to own firearms. The opposing interpretation is called the collective rights view, meaning that the Second Amendment is only a right of state governments to arm their National Guard units.
Polls show that more than 70% of Americans (correctly) believe that they have a civil right under the Constitution to own a gun. But in America we dont decide constitutional controversies by taking a poll.
Only federal courtsand ultimately the Supreme Courthave the power to interpret the Constitution in a binding way. The Supreme Court has never spoken definitively on the scope or meaning of the Second Amendment. And the Courts silence has allowed cities and states to enact broad, sweeping laws hostile to gun ownership.
The worst of these laws is the District of Columbia gun ban. If you live in our nations capital, you cannot have a handgun or a readily-usable rifle or shotgun in your own home for self-defense. No ifs, ands or buts. It is a near-blanket prohibition on firearms and self-defense.
That brings us to the Parker case. The named plaintiff, Shelly Parker, lives in the high crime area of DC and has been threatened by thugs and drug dealers. She wants to be able to protect herself and she sued the city government over the gun ban. Its shocking to realize that in one of the most violent cities in America, a woman is denied the tool that might save her life.
But its the law in the District, so she took the District to court.
On March 9, in a landmark ruling the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the DC gun ban as unconstitutional in a 2-1 decision. The DC Circuit Court held that the Second Amendment protects a citizens civil right to own firearms, adopting the individual rights view, and invalidated the DC law.
As you would expect, the DC government is appealing the ruling. Earlier this month DC petitioned for what is called an en banc rehearing. That means that all eleven eligible judges on the DC Circuit would hear the case, instead of the usual three-judge panel. As you read this we are waiting to see if the circuit court grants or denies that petition.
Regardless of whether the full DC Circuit Court hears the case en banc, the losing party will certainly appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. And without going into all the legal rules and reasons that help determine whether the Court takes a given case, let me just say the odds are good that the Court will take this one.
This case is monumental. Already the DC Circuit Court opinionif left untouchedwill totally change gun ownership rights in the District of Columbia. And the DC Circuit is one of the most respected and well-credentialed courts in America. Its opinions and rulings have a major impact on courts and lawmakers all over the country.
But as important as the DC Circuit is, it pales in comparison to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court takes this case, it could have a huge impact all across our land.
Theres so much more to be said regarding this case. Ill have more to write on this once the DC Circuit decides whether to rehear en banc. In the meantime, this is a case you want to be watching. Theres a lot at stake, not just for gun owners but for all who believe in upholding the Constitution and enforcing our civil rights.
Sandy Froman is the immediate past president of the National Rifle Association of America, only the second woman and the first Jewish American to hold that office in the 136-year history of the NRA.
The gun-grabbers have steered as far away from that as they possibly could for years, because they know if they lose it will be really bad for them.
They would prefer passing 2,000,000 local gun control laws and wear us down to losing one USSC case and being finished.
Going for a Roe v Wade style victory. It’s a big gamble, but like all big gambles sometimes you win big too
bump and bookmark
I should have RTFA.
They’re going for broke with this one because the tide of sentiment is going against them. More and more people are buying guns.
Mayor for Life Barry has moved to repeal the law - that would obviate the court case, and keep it out of the USSC.
I think Massachussets paid him off.
But the loser of that case will appeal to the US Supreme Court.
Four justices will grant certiorari: either 4 conservatives or 4 liberals, depending on which side wins.
And then the Supreme Court hears the case.
Justice Kennedy may be the deciding vote on yet another landmark case.
But here’s an interesting thought: Justice Souter was mugged jogging in Washington DC. He might think there’s a personal right to arms.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that there is a great difference between the right to bear arms and the right to fire them.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
The majority in yesterdays decision pointed to a 1998 dissent in which at least three current members (and one former member) of the Supreme Court have read bear arms in the Second Amendment to have meaning beyond mere soldiering. They were former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia and David H. Souter.
There's reason for cautious optimism. Here's the actual paragraph from Parker:
"We also note that at least three current members (and one former member) of the Supreme Court have read "bear Arms" in the Second Amendment to have meaning beyond mere soldiering: "Surely a most familiar meaning [of 'carries a firearm'] is, as the Constitution's Second Amendment ('keepand bear Arms') and Black's Law Dictionary . . . indicate: 'wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person." Muscarello v. United States, 524 U.S. 125, 143 (1998) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting, joined by Rehnquist, C.J., Scalia, J.,and Souter, J.) (emphasis in original). Based on the foregoing, we think the operative clause includes a private meaning for"bear Arms."
Do you now think Ginsburg and Souter will contradict themselves?
I thought you only had to be able to read English to figure that one out, but then I usually don't over-analyze things.
That’s just it - they’ve upped the stakes, and the consequences of failure are unthinkable for both sides.
They’re going for broke.
Any one out there have any confidence in our Supreme Court?
If you do then you are either on drugs or stupid.
Give them credit as they have allowed that partial birth is murder but what the hell else have they gotten right in the last ten years or so?
Got a few bucks? Yes you too can buy their vote like most judicial jurisdictions.
I forgot to add this:
The gungrabbers see the tide of sentiment turning against them; they see things like the Tennessee gun de-restriction, Governor Perry’s statement about the RKBa, the ever increasing numbers of states and places with CCW and/or open carry, the failure of their predicted bloodbaths after deregulation, and the reduction of their power in areas where their lies have become transparent to all.
They rightfully fear that the logical conclusion of their loss would be the total revocation of nearly all gun controls, “hard won” (in their opinion) over the course of a century.
Then we amend the Constitution to re-establish the individual RKBA. Do you honestly think that the legislatures of 3/4's of the states WOULDN'T pass such an amendment??? With 70% of to populace already believing that such a right exists.
If they win, the "awkward phase" will be over.
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