General

Supreme Court Rules on McDonald: 2nd Amendment Incorporated via 14th Amendment

The US Supreme Court today handed down a groundbreaking decision ruling that the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution applies to the States and local governments, prohibiting them from enacting laws which infringe on a person’s 2nd Amendment rights. In the decision, the Majority ruled that the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment does not allow a person’s right to keep and bear arms to be infringed upon without a trial. Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented, along with Stevens who dissents for himself. Justice Alito was joined in the Majority opinion by Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, with Thomas joining with his own dissenting opinion. The notion that the Privileges and Immunities clause also applies was rejected, save for the dissenting opinion by Justice Thomas. In the Majority opinion by Alito, the court explicitly states that it will not reconsider the Slaughterhouse ruling, which essentially stripped any meaning from the Privileges and Immunities clause.

In summary, the court declared: Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federalsuit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several re-lated City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are unconstitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases—United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535— which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36. Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded. The court did not rule on what action must be taken by the city of Chicago, but instead remanded the decision to the Seventh Circuit court.

You can view the entire 204 page Supreme Court decision here. (*.PDF)

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