The Supreme Court on Tuesday seemed poised to require state and local governments to obey the Second Amendment guarantee of a personal right to a gun, but with perhaps considerable authority to regulate that right. The dominant sentiment on the Court was to extend the Amendment beyond the federal level, based on the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of “due process,” since doing so through another part of the 14th Amendment would raise too many questions about what other rights might emerge.
When the Justices cast their first vote after starting later this week to discuss where to go from here, it appeared that the focus of debate will be how extensive a “right to keep and bear arms” should be spelled out: would it be only some “core right” to have a gun for personal safety, or would it include every variation of that right that could emerge in the future as courts decide specific cases? The liberal wing of the Court appeared to be making a determined effort to hold the expanded Amendment in check, but even the conservatives open to applying the Second Amendment to states, counties and cities seemed ready to concede some — but perhaps fewer — limitations.
The eagerly awaited oral argument in McDonald, et al., v. Chicago, et al. (08-1521) found all members of the Court actively involved except the usually silent Justice Clarence Thomas. And, while no one said that the issue of “incorporating” the Second Amendment into the 14th Amendment had already been decided before the argument had even begun, the clear impression was that the Court majority was at least sentimentally in favor of that, with only the dimensions of the expansion to be worked out in this case and in a strong of likely precedents coming as time went on.
An attempt by an attorney for the cities of Chicago and Oak Park, Ill., defending local bans on handguns in those communities, to prevent any application of the constitutional gun right to states, counties and cities looked forlorn and even doomed. ...
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