Friday, June 27, 2008

Guns and Abortion

Despite loudly proclaiming his belief in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has just written the majority opinion in a case that miraculously discovers rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Incredible!

In District of Columbia v. Heller the Court ruled that individuals have the right to bear arms. This had been a bit of a Constitutional sticking point over the years because the second amendment seems to tie that right to the need to have a "well-regulated militia." However, the Court has chosen to interpret that clause pretty broadly and say that it applies to individuals who never have and never will serve in any sort of militia, well-regulated or otherwise. Slate's Timoth Noah also writes that in the process, Justice Scalia discovered the right to convenience.

On Constitutional matters, I know just enough to sound like I know what I'm talking about, but I'm hardly John Marshall. As such, I can't say that I know how the Constitution should be interpreted to suit modern times. What is clear to me though, is that you can't simultaneously argue for a strict construction of the Constitution, argue that there should be no recognized right to privacy (the basis for the decision in Roe v. Wade), and say that the Constitution guarantees the rights of individuals to carry handguns despite it not saying that in the document itself.

This case may be a strike against gun control laws in DC and elsewhere. But the next time a privacy case comes up, Scalia's writing in Heller may prove to be a pretty good tool.

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