This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.
Decided Jun 26, 2008
Case Ruling: District of Columbia v. Heller
Overturning DC's handgun ban, the court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to own a gun for private use--not only in connection with service in a militia. The 5-to-4 decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, left unanswered questions, but also much room for continued gun regulation, short of an absolute ban.
HELD: Delivered by Scalia; joined by Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, AlitoThe Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable the citizens' militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms.
DISSENT #1: Stevens, joined by Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer
The Stevens dissent rests on four main points of disagreement:
- that the Founders would have made the individual right aspect of the Second Amendment express if that was what was intended
- that the "militia" preamble demands the conclusion that the Second Amendment touches on state militia service only
- that many lower courts' later "collective-right" reading of the Miller decision constitutes stare decisis
- and that the Court has not considered gun-control laws (e.g., the National Firearms Act) unconstitutional.
DISSENT #2: Breyer, joined by Stevens, Souter, GinsburgJustice Breyer filed a separate dissenting opinion that, even with an individual-rights view, the DC handgun ban and trigger lock requirement would nevertheless be permissible limitations on the right. The Breyer dissent concludes, "there simply is no untouchable constitutional right to keep loaded handguns in the house in crime-ridden urban areas."
Participating counts on VoteMatch question 10.
Question 10: Absolute right to gun ownership
Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
- Topic: Gun Control
- Headline: Right to gun ownership is individual, not collective
- Headline 2: Right to gun ownership is collective, not individual
- Headline 3: No right to loaded guns in crime-ridden cities
- Key for participation codes:
- Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
- Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
- Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
- Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
- Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.
participating in 08-HELLER
Total recorded by OnTheIssues: