Happiness is a Warm Gun Baby…

Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot: The Supreme Court has ruled, 5-4, that the DC ban on handgun ownership is unconstitutional, as the Second Amendment confers individuals the right to own firearms for self-defense and hunting.

The case, District of Columbia vs. Heller, is the first Supreme Court interpretation of the Second Amendment in US history. The opinion has not been made available electronically as I’m writing, so my thoughts on that will come later. But as a follower of Constitutional jurisprudence, I am excited in a geeky kind of way because of its historical and legal precedent.

UPDATE 1: Why am I not surprised that Scalia wrote the opinion of a 5-4 vote on a controversial issue?

UPDATE 2: Kennedy really seems to be the swing vote on the current Court. Without him, the opinions line up exactly like how you would expect: Scalia-Roberts-Alito-Thomas vs. Ginsburg-Souter-Stevens-Breyer. So it comes down to Kennedy, and he lines up with the conservative bloc.

UPDATE 3: The opinion is here (pdf). Peruse.

UPDATE 4: This is the final update before I say anything substantive, but here’s one reason why I love reading Scalia–not because I agree with his substantive decisions, his methodology, or his interpretive stance–but rather how he writes.

Witness Footnote 5, accompanying Scalia’s claim that the right to own firearms is an individual right, not a right which is predicated upon membership in some collective entity:

JUSTICE STEVENS is of course correct, post, at 10, that the right to assemble cannot be exercised alone, but it is still an individual right, and not one conditioned upon membership in some defined “assembly,” as he contends the right to bear arms is conditioned upon membership in a defined militia. And JUSTICE STEVENS is dead wrong (emphasis is mine) to think that the right to petition is “primarily collective in nature.”

I find it hilarious that Scalia uses such strong language to make what I think is an uncritical point. He just feels the need to beat the shit out of Stevens’ opinion (figuratively of course, although Scalia is of Sicilian descent…)


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