Monday, June 28, 2010

In Chicago Gun Case Four Justices Deny Right of Self Defense

Today the Supreme Court incorporated the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, deciding in favor of plaintiff Otis McDonald who argued that the right of individuals to own a handgun in their homes and to keep that gun in an "at the ready" state, that is, unlocked and loaded, is a basic constitutional right. It's a good day for civil rights, the Constitution and the American people.

In the aftermath, Chicago's total ban on hand guns is certain to be overturned. Also certain is that Chicago Mayor Daley and other politicians will move quickly to defeat the spirit of the McDonald v. Chicago ruling by drafting laws and regulations designed to thwart the efforts of citizens to keep firearms for self defense. As Independent Firearm Owners Association (IFOA) founder Richard Feldman quipped "Will this be known in history as the firearm lawyers full employment decision of 2010?" No doubt it will for some time.

Hopefully Mayor Daley will focus his energies on working with the Liberal Gun Club, IFOA, Democrats for Gun Ownership and other groups to develop credible, easily-accessible gun training and safety programs for the many new gun owners his city is soon going to have. Rather than buck the trend, instigating the energetic creation of gun safety and handling courses would do more to protect honest citizens in Chicago than their mayor's posturing and efforts to deflect blame for his city's appalling murder rate.

But celebrate--the right to bear arms is secure, for now. But what about the right of self defense?

Four justices dissented from the McDonald v. Chicago decision: Justice STEVENS, who wrote his own dissent, and Justices BREYER, GINSBURG and SOTOMAYOR, who signed on to the McDonald dissent written by Breyer. Justice SCALIA's concurring opinion in McDonald takes Stevens' odd logic to task, but doesn't address the dangerous implications of the Breyer dissent. What Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor did in their dissenting opinion was to challenge not just the validity of the right of individuals to bear arms, but the very right of self-defense itself.

Quoting from Breyer's McDonald dissent:
"[E]xamination of the Framers' motivation tells us they did not think the private armed self-defense right was of paramount importance...Further, there is no popular consensus that the private self-defense right described in Heller is fundamental."
- Justice Breyer (Ginburg & Sotomayor)

Breyer & friends continue with similar attacks on Heller v. D.C. and the right of self-defense throughout the dissent, concluding with the following thoughts:
"In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense. There has been, and is, no consensus that the right is, or was, 'fundamental.' No broader constitutional interest or principle supports legal treatment of that right as fundamental. To the contrary, broader constitutional concerns of an institutional nature argue strongly against that treatment."
Make no mistake, denying the substantive right to self defense is as underhanded an attack on people's security and independence as is possible. Humans are the tool makers; culture and firearms--especially hand guns--are the primary tools used in protecting our our persons. Denying the right of self defense as these justices have, is akin to denying our humanity. But given Breyer's appalling lack of historical knowledge, his poor grasp of anthropology isn't surprising.

Regarding history and the "Founders" and whether They thought the right to self-defense was "fundamental," there are many examples that easily prove Breyer is uninformed. I'll leave you with two, one from Thomas Jefferson (lately written out of history by the right-wing in Texas) and another from the "Founder's Founder," Roger Sherman, the only person to sign the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution:
"No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
- Thomas Jefferson
"[C]onceived it to be the privilege of every citizen, and one of his most essential rights, to bear arms, and to resist every attack upon his liberty or property, by whomsoever made."
- Roger Sherman
'Nuf said--Breyer, stop making stuff up.

Despite the McDonald victory, given what is at stake, a five-to-four margin seems a very slim. Given the lengths to which different justices of both right- and left-wing persuasion are willing to go to subvert our foundational document to their personal views, Congress needs--right now--to live up to its duty to demand frank responses to direct questions in the Kagan Supreme Court confirmation, and in all other cases where they advise and consent to whom is seated on the Supreme Court.

7 comments:

Steel Castings said...
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Steel Castings said...
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Steel Castings said...
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Anonymous said...

They will make it so economically impossible to own a gun in Chicago; it will be a de facto gun ban. This is there "reasonable" regulation. See Washington DC.

tonyspdx

Zak Johnson said...

You're absolutely right, tonypdx, I expect Daley & friends to do exactly that. Right now in D.C., in addition to taking the classes, the fees alone are $60 per gun you want to register. That doesn't ever seem like much to the people making the laws, but it represents a day's wages to anyone making minimum wage. Again, that's per gun.

Just think if it cost $60 each time you exercised your right to free speech.

Anonymous said...

Sotomayor lied and she should be impeached

Anonymous said...

The comment about Texas is a distortion. Texas did not write Jefferson out of history! (unless you think Jefferson was only discussed in one question of the whole history curriculum.)

Texas textbooks will still discuss Jefferson, JUST NOT IN THAT ONE QUESTION.

They changed ONE standard from:
explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present.

to:
"Explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone."