John Paul Stevens was an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 until he retired in 2010. His most recent book is The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years. At The Atlantic, he writes—The Supreme Court’s Worst Decision of My Tenure:
District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to possess a firearm under the Constitution, is unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench. […]
Throughout most of American history there was no federal objection to laws regulating the civilian use of firearms. When I joined the Supreme Court in 1975, both state and federal judges accepted the Court’s unanimous decision in United States v. Miller as having established that the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to bear arms was possessed only by members of the militia and applied only to weapons used by the militia. In that case, the Court upheld the indictment of a man who possessed a short-barreled shotgun, writing, “In the absence of any evidence that the possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.”
Colonial history contains many examples of firearm regulations in urban areas that imposed obstacles to their use for protection of the home. Boston, Philadelphia, and New York—the three largest cities in America at that time—all imposed restrictions on the firing of guns in the city limits. Boston enacted a law in 1746 prohibiting the “discharge” of any gun or pistol that was later revived in 1778; Philadelphia prohibited firing a gun or setting off fireworks without a governor’s special license; and New York banned the firing of guns for three days surrounding New Year’s Day. Those and other cities also regulated the storage of gunpowder. Boston’s gunpowder law imposed a 10-pound fine on any person who took any loaded firearm into any dwelling house or barn within the town. Most, if not all, of those regulations would violate the Second Amendment as it was construed in the 5–4 decision that Justice Antonin Scalia announced in Heller on June 26, 2008.
Until Heller, the invalidity of Second Amendment–based objections to firearms regulations had been uncontroversial. […]
And even if there were some merit to the legal arguments advanced in the Heller case, all could foresee the negative consequences of the decision, which should have provided my colleagues with the justification needed to apply stare decisis to Miller. At a minimum, it should have given them greater pause before announcing such a radical change in the law that would greatly tie the hands of state and national lawmakers endeavoring to find solutions to the gun problem in America. Their twin failure—first, the misreading of the intended meaning of the Second Amendment, and second, the failure to respect settled precedent—represents the worst self-inflicted wound in the Court’s history. […]
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“I hadn’t been aware that there were doors closed to me until I started knocking on them.”
~~Gertrude B. Elion, Winner of the1988 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2003—Osama’s back:
Let’s get to the heart of the matter, the Saudis are scared to death of Osama and even more scared that we will find out how deeply supported Al Qaeda is in Saudi society.
The Bush Administration can neither protect the Saudi princes from themselves nor destroy Al Qaeda.
In the same year that the US devoted its entire military and intelligence apparatus to finding and destroying Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, which has now boiled down to a mobile brewery and some scrapings from a tank, Al Qaeda is not only not destroyed, but nearly as strong as it was on September 10, 2001.
Stories of the return of the Taliban ran in the papers during the Iraq war and were ignored by most people. The pronouncements from Osama have been treated like a trick from the last couple of episodes of 24 and not a real and ongoing threat to national security.
Throwing hundreds of people into our Cuban gulag at Gitmo may have been able to prevent some immediate attacks, but it clearly has not killed the Al Qaeda organization, much less the driving force of Islamic revivalist thought (the proper name for what we call fundamentalism) rampant in the region. Tossing out thousands for minor immigration violations has only caused hardship and resentment in Pakistan and around the Arab world.
And given the absolute ineptness of US policy in Europe over the last year, we find ourselves more isolated and alone than ever.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: We set out SCOTUS bait for Armando this morning, and it worked. Was Breyer’s dissent a BFD? Armando rates it a “meh,” and later moves on to wondering if Mueller dropped the ball. Also, does Trump “understand” tariffs? What does “understand” mean?