The US Supreme Court rule five to four to upholding the Second Amendment; The fundamental right of private citizens to own a gun. The ruling in the case McDonald v. Chicago weakens gun bans across the country significantly. From The Washington Post:
The Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state and local governments, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a long-sought victory for gun rights advocates.
The 5 to 4 decision does not strike down any gun-control laws, nor does it elaborate on what kind of laws would offend the Constitution. One justice predicted that an “avalanche” of lawsuits would be filed across the country asking federal judges to define the boundaries of gun ownership and government regulation.
But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who wrote the opinion for the court’s dominant conservatives, said: “It is clear that the Framers . . . counted the right to keep and bear arms among those fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty.”
Alito join by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.
The decision extended the court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that “the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.” That decision applied only to federal laws and federal enclaves such as Washington; it was the first time the court had said there was an individual right to gun ownership rather than one related to military service.
Monday’s decision might be more symbolic than substantive, at least initially. No cities have laws as restrictive as the handgun bans in the District and in Monday’s case from Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park. Although the court’s decision did not specifically strike down those laws, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said it will make the city’s 28-year-old law “unenforceable.”
Those who have fought for years for such an interpretation of the Second Amendment were ecstatic. The decision was “a great moment in American history,” said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, marking the occasion when “the Second Amendment becomes a real part of constitutional law.”
Outgoing justice John Paul Steven wrote the dissenting opinion:
Stevens said the decision “invites an avalanche of litigation that could mire the federal courts in fine-grained determinations about which state and local regulations comport with the Heller right — the precise contours of which are far from pellucid — under a standard of review we have not even established.”
Justice Stephen G. Breyer objected to the majority decision and read his dissent from the bench. He disagreed with the majority that it is a fundamental right, saying the court was restricting state and local efforts from designing gun-control laws that both fit their particular circumstances and save lives.
“In a nation whose constitution foresees democratic decision-making, is it so fundamental a matter as to require taking that power from the people?” Breyer wrote. “What is it here that the people did not know? What is it that a judge knows better?”
Joining Stevens and Breyer were Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Today was Stevens final day on the court pay tribute to bow-tied senior justice :
Bow ties popped up on men and woman throughout the courtroom, a tribute to Justice John Paul Stevens, 90, who first came to work at the court 63 years ago as a clerk. He is retiring from the seat he assumed on Dec. 19, 1975, and said in a letter to his colleagues that “if I have overstayed my welcome, it is because this is such a unique and wonderful job.”
Justice Ruth Ginsburg remember her husband who passed away:
Also on the bench was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose husband of 56 years, Martin D. Ginsburg, died on Sunday. Ginsburg, 77, looked directly ahead as Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recounted Martin Ginsburg’s accomplishments as a renowned tax lawyer and university professor, and she smiled sadly when Roberts mentioned her husband’s skills as a “gourmet cook.”
The Washington Post has the rest of the story.