The Supreme Court ruled today in District of Columbia v. Heller that the District of Columbia’s ban on possession of a handgun for self-defense within the home violated an individual right to bear arms protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The majority in the 5-4 decision of the Court was written by Justice Scalia, with Justices Breyer and Stevens dissenting.
Congratulations to Alan Gura, Bob Levy, and Clark Neily, attorneys for the respondent, on their successful work to extract a clear ruling from a Court that has avoided the Second Amendment almost entirely since the nation’s founding.
While the ruling clearly supports an individual right, it does not answer some important questions like:
- Does the Second Amendment apply to state governments?
- What standard of review should courts apply to gun laws challenged under the Second Amendment?
- Are systems of gun licensing constitutionally permitted?
All of these questions will come up in the future, as this ruling opens the door for challenges to other gun laws. Likely first on the list for challenge is Chicago’s prohibition on handguns.
My prediction is that any Supreme Court nominee that doesn’t agree with Heller will be swiftly and immediately filibustered. This prediction stands no matter who the President is and no matter who controls the Senate. Congressmen are particularly sensitive on the issue of gun control, especially after the bloodbath following the Assault Weapons Ban, and this will just make them even more sensitive.
UPDATE: Looks like my prediction about Chicago’s gun ban being next to be challenged was correct. From the press release at ChicagoGunCase.com:
Following Thursday’s (5-4) ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right to keep and bear arms, and that a municipal gun ban violates that right, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) filed a federal lawsuit (complaint) challenging the City of Chicago’s long-standing handgun ban.