Monday, June 30, 2008

The Importance of the Heller Decision

Yes, we all want to keep our guns; but that is not what makes this decision so important. Andrew Langer of the Institute for Liberty explains the importance of this decision to ALL of us, whether we own guns or not.

Read his most recent column at

Contrary to what many of us may believe, the Constitution does not convey rights upon individuals. Our Founding Fathers had read John Locke and knew that we are endowed with certain rights. The purpose of the Constitution is to LIMIT government, not to bestow rights; just read the 9th and 10th Amendments.

Rarely does the U.S. Supreme Court deliver a ruling that confirms what our Constitution is all about. That is why the Heller decision will prove so important.

cross posted at Delmarva Dealings Red Maryland

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Anonymous said...

While we agree that the constitution limits the power of government, it never ceases to amaze me how conservatives will applaud SC decisions like Heller only to turn around and complain bitterly about Boumediene or the California gay marriage decision. After all, all three decisions limited the power of government yet I never hear "conservatives" attacking the Bush administration's expansion of executive power.

It’s true, the Heller decision limits the power of government but that is not why conservatives and republicans support it. They support it because it was a decision that fits their political agenda. All talk of strict readings of the constitution goes right out the window when it is politically inconvenient.

I completely respect The Court’s role as final arbitrator of the constitution and accept their interpretation of the 2nd amendment as the law of the land. However, the hypocrisy and political opportunism from the right is laughable.

Bruce Godfrey said...

What anonymous said. Conservatives rarely face the equal protection arguments head on; indeed, conservatives have been on the wrong side of the equal protection clause for 142 years and counting, and instead bleat about "judicial activism" thwarting the "will of the people."

This gun ban existed about as long as the Maryland marriage statute at issue in Deane v. Conaway. Gun control is quite popular in DC; were it not, the local ordinance would have been repealed in part or in whole. The will of the majority of the people of DC got overturned by this law; good. I wish that the MD same-sex marriage ban - a less popular ban in MD than gun control is in DC - had fallen, that the perceived "will of the majority" had suffered the same fate under the 14th Amendment and under Article 46 of the Maryland Constitution, as opposed to the 2nd Amendment in the DC case.

"Judicial activism" is a garbage phrase for "we lost and we are peeved."

G. A. Harrison said...

You have an excellent point, EXCEPT... I attack Bush all of the time for being a "big government guy". I should have attacked him more over his "signing statements" and didn't. I recommend Mickey Edward's book "Reclaiming Conservatism". You'll see that not every one of us who claims to be a conservative is really a "Bushie".

As for Boumediene, I have to confess ingnorance.

As for the California gay marriage decision, that is a different matter. That was a state court decision. The federal government had no business interfering in this matter. Nor do they in the Oregon assisted suicide law, nor abortion, nor a host of other things.

It may surprise you that even as an evangelical I oppose federal intervention in marriage. If the state wanted to claim that my congregation had to marry a gay couple, that would be different. In the meantime, civil marriage is merely a state sanctioned contract between two individuals. Of course what happens when one guy and three girls, or four guys, or a guy his goat and dog all want the same right. I'm not being facetious, nor am I worrying about it too much.

You might also be surprised that I believe that since marriage is a civil contract (at least the part you buy a marriage license for), a gay marriage in Massachusetts or California should be afforded the same rights if that couple moves to Maryland.

It seems that half of the decisions of the Warren court were cases of the feds interfering with state issues. Of course liberals don't want to give abortion back to the states. Or apportionment (one-man, one-vote), or schools, or ....

I don't have to agree with the morality of something to understand that it should still be legal.

Higgy said...

It seems to me the California gay marriage decision was made by judges going against the already spoken will of the people of California. That has nothing to do with the constitution. This was a small group of rogue judges determined to do as they please regardless.

G. A. Harrison said...

Bruce -

You should be ashamed. How dare you compare an individual right that is EXPRESSLY affirmed in our bill of rights with a "made up right" that you are claiming through the 14th Amendment.

This is the problem with liberals. You lost Heller and you whine, but you still want the courts to deliver on something like same-sex marriage.

As I noted in the comment above, this is a state issue that should be settled by individual state legislatures. However, where you should start to get your way is when there is a critical mass of gay marriages and these people move to other states.

As I've noted, I would hope that the contracts clause would apply to marriage just as it applies to any other legal contract.

I'm sure that you will get the result you want, just go about it the right way.

Bruce Godfrey said...

GA - how dare I? I should be ashamed? I am not ashamed of the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law, though you are free to be ashamed of me for standing up for it. Only in the remotest, most illucid circles of conservative Hell would someone dare to attack someone for standing up for a constitutional principle, and to do so ON PRINCIPLE! Hilarious. Beyond the deep end, beyond my deep capacity for ridicule.

I am ashamed of nothing, except that a breathing Marylander in 2008 hates the equal protection clause more than he loves his own clean conscience.

Bruce Godfrey said...

And by the way, GA, "we liberals" did not "lose" Heller. I backed Heller in my comment above, and on this lengthy post here. At the leading liberal blog Daily Kos, Kossacks are supporting the Heller decision about 2-1, more if you count concurring views (scroll down to the poll).

G. A. Harrison said...


You guys can't even find the 9th or 10th amendments. The 14th has been used by activist judges as the left wing catch-all to Federalize EVERYTHING.

If you (liberals, not necessarily Democrats) control the Congress, use it. If not, use the courts. This has been the liberal credo reaching back to before I was born.

G. A. Harrison said...


The "how dare you" comment was referring to your comparison of a clearly enumerated right versus the one that leftist judges make up.

Also, you should be careful for what you wish for. The California gay marriage case that you care so much for could be just as easily overturned in a Federal court using the same tool that liberals seem to cherish most - judicial activism.

It would be wrong, but some of my brethren would argue that it was just.

williamjacobs said...

I'm a libertarian Democrat

I do not interpret amendment 9 and 10 the way you do. They strike me as spelling out that The other 8 individual rights are not an exhaustive list. They are specifically mentioned to make plain that these 8 are not in any way negotiable. If Jefferson hadn't done that, he was fearful that those 8 rights would be all the government would want to allow.

The 2nd amendment would be teh ONLY amendment addressing rights of groups (militias.) This makes no sense to me and chastise my fellow Democrats for insisting on viewing the 2nd as an exception. Seven of the 8 refer to individual rights and the eighth they deny because they don't, as a group, like guns.

The Constitution isn't about what its citizens like or prefer. Many forms of free speech such as flag burning or white supremacy would be illegal otherwise.