Monday, February 11, 2008

DC Second Amendment case: "friend of court" brief from GLIL


There is a new (as amici curiae) brief from Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty and Pink Pistols in the District of Columbia’s Second Amendment case “District of Columbia and Adrian M. Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia” v. Dick Anthony Heller” in the DC’s challenge to the DC Ciruit’s ruling that the DC handgun law is unconstitutional. The link (a pdf file) is here. I last took up this case on July 17, 2007 on this blog (see archive links).

The argument stresses the notion that it is contradictory to the meaning of the 1791 Bill of Rights (now 216 years old!) to predicate an individual right (self defense with a weapon) to a government controlled service (in this case, military service or service in a militia). The argument goes on to discuss the particular needs of GLBT people to be able to defend themselves in their homes, as they have been victims of hate crimes. The brief gives many examples of hate crimes, such as the Matthew Shepard case in Wyoming (Oct. 1998). In the District, home invasions and robberies occur in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Logan Circle (particularly a problem area), Adams Morgan, and sometimes Dupont Circle. The brief mentions that police are often unable to respond quickly, and a belief that a homeowner or resident may be armed is an effective deterrent. I would add, had Washington Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor in Florida been properly armed at home, he might be alive today and playing pro football.

Oral arguments for this case will take place at the Supreme Court Tuesday, March 18, 2008 (NBC4 story). The lines (including the "three minute line") will surely be very long.

The Visitors Guide for hearing oral arguments is here (pdf). The main link for visiting the court is here. I personally heard substantial portions of the oral arguments regarding the Communications Decency Act (arguments heard March 19, 1997) and Child Online Protection Act (March 2, 2004).

Update: Feb. 14

The Washington Times has a commentary by Robert A. Levy, p. A21, "Promises breached: Bush administration sells out the 2nd Amendment," link here. For purely political reasons, the Bush DOJ apparently reversed an earlier position that self-defense is a "fundamental right" not connected to militia (or military) service, but that an "elastic standard" could determine "whether a handgun ban is reasonable."

Also, Sunday Feb. 17 The Washington Times carried a commentary by Oliver North, "Second Amendment's Day in Court," link here.

There is some little known arcane 18th Century law that claims that all American males in a certain age range are members of an unorganized militia (a fact that The Citadel in Charleston SC uses in categorizing its academic staff).

GLIL and The Washington Times taking the same position! Modern politics makes strange bedfellows.

Update: Feb. 28, 2008

USA Today on Feb. 27 had an analysis by John Biskupic, "Do you have a legal right to own a gun?", link here. 73% of Americans believe that competent adults should be able to defend themselves with firearms.

Picture (unrelated): grounds of the Washington Cathedral, Mr. St. Albans.

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