Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

Retired Anti-Gun Justice Reveals Attempts to Thwart Landmark Heller Decision

Friday, November 30, 2018

Retired Anti-Gun Justice Reveals Attempts to Thwart Landmark Heller Decision

Few Supreme Court justices have been as avowedly opposed to the Second Amendment as John Paul Stevens, who retired from the high court in June 2010. Stevens wrote a lengthy dissent to the landmark decision of District of Columbia v. Heller and to its follow-up, McDonald v. Chicago. He then continued to advocate against those cases even after his retirement, including in a book proposing amendments to the Constitution and in a high-profile editorial published in the New York Times urging repeal of the Second Amendment. Now Stevens is publishing a memoir and has revealed what were by his own account extraordinary efforts to try to thwart the outcome of the Heller decision or at least to limit the scope of the Second Amendment’s individual right.

According to a New York Times article about the upcoming book – tentatively titled “The Making of a Justice: My First 94 Years” – Stevens considers Heller one of the three worst decisions the Supreme Court issued during his nearly 45 year tenure as an associate justice. Stevens faulted both the reasoning of the decision and what he called “its actual practical impact by increasing the use of guns in the country … ."

Yet Stevens admitted he was advocating against the decision before it was even available for the justices themselves to review, telling the Times he circulated his own “probable dissent” five weeks before Justice Antonin Scalia released his draft majority opinion. According to the Times article, Stevens “could not recall ever having done anything like that.” Nevertheless, he told the Times, “I thought I should give it every effort to switch the case before it was too late.”

Fortunately, Stevens’s opinion proved less persuasive to a majority of his colleagues than did Justice Scalia’s.

Nevertheless, Stevens credits himself with getting the crucial swing vote for the Heller opinion – now retired Justice Anthony Kennedy – to demand some “important changes” to limit the opinion’s scope. These included a litany of existing types of gun control upon which the opinion should not be taken to “cast doubt.” Specifically, the opinion mentions “longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Of course, the Heller case itself did not actually concern any of those types of laws, focusing instead on D.C.’s handgun ban and its requirement to store firearms in an unusable state. Thus, the legal significance of that passage is debatable. A number of courts have, in fact, examined such laws in light of the Second Amendment and occasionally have found applications of those laws invalid. On the other hand, judges have also used that passage of Heller as an invitation to uphold sweeping prohibitions and even to exempt other types of gun control from the Second Amendment’s scope by analogy.

In any case, not only was Stevens wrong about the meaning of the Second Amendment, he’s also wrong that recognition of the individual right has led to negative effects from “increasing gun use in this country.” Criminals obviously weren’t waiting on word from the Supreme Court when deciding whether or how to use guns to prey upon their victims. Meanwhile, most Americans who exercise their Second Amendment rights continue to do so responsibly, as they have all along.

The Times article is revealing, however, in depicting the obsession that some elites have with suppressing the Second Amendment rights of ordinary Americans. It also underscores the importance of what President Trump has accomplished, and continues to pursue, through his appointment of federal judges who respect the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution, including the  individual right to keep and bear arms.

 

 

 

 

TRENDING NOW
Court Rules Second Amendment Prohibits Federal Pre-Conviction Firearms Ban

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Court Rules Second Amendment Prohibits Federal Pre-Conviction Firearms Ban

Last week, a federal judge in the Western District of Texas ruled that a law which prohibits the acquisition of firearms by someone who is under felony indictment violates the Second Amendment. The decision to ...

More Pushback on Credit Card Surveillance of Firearm Buyers

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

More Pushback on Credit Card Surveillance of Firearm Buyers

As we’ve previously reported, on September 9, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearm retailers. MCCs enable payment processors and banks to categorize, monitor, and collect data on various types of ...

Illinois Sets the Stage for Possible Unprecedented Crime Wave

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Illinois Sets the Stage for Possible Unprecedented Crime Wave

As part of a criminal justice “reform” effort, the state of Illinois is preparing to unleash the first statewide no-cash bail law, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and the ramifications could ...

Update: Further Dispatches from New York’s War on Guns

News  

Monday, September 26, 2022

Update: Further Dispatches from New York’s War on Guns

Speaking about her new gun control legislation, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul claimed that “we took swift and thoughtful action to keep New Yorkers safe…. we will continue leading the way forward and implementing ...

Shipping Companies Prohibit the Lawful Shipping of Firearms

News  

Monday, September 19, 2022

Shipping Companies Prohibit the Lawful Shipping of Firearms

Wondering what federal law says regarding individuals who do not have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) that need to ship firearms? Well, if you go to the website for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and ...

South Carolina: The City of Columbia Passes More Unconstitutional Gun Control

Friday, September 23, 2022

South Carolina: The City of Columbia Passes More Unconstitutional Gun Control

Last week, the Columbia City Council passed Ordinance No.: 2022-080 to require its residents to report their lost or stolen firearms to the police within 24 hours or face up to a $500 fine. This is ...

Brace Yourself: Biden Administration Reinterprets “Firearm,” Prepares Crackdown

News  

Monday, August 29, 2022

Brace Yourself: Biden Administration Reinterprets “Firearm,” Prepares Crackdown

When we say “brace yourself,” we’re not kidding. The pistol brace rule is coming as well. But first, a different sort of crackdown was unleashed on the nation this week, as an ATF rule published ...

Financial Surveillance Used to Build Gun Owner Registry

News  

Monday, September 19, 2022

Financial Surveillance Used to Build Gun Owner Registry

On September 9, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearm retailers. The ISO is a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that consists of a network of “standards bodies” from around the globe ...

Join us for the 2022 NRA-ILA Firearms Law & the Second Amendment Symposium on October 8th in Pittsburgh

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Join us for the 2022 NRA-ILA Firearms Law & the Second Amendment Symposium on October 8th in Pittsburgh

Join us for the 2022 NRA-ILA Firearms Law & The Second Amendment Symposium on Saturday, October 8th, at the Doubletree Hilton Pittsburgh-Green Tree in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

OREGON: Vote NO on Ballot Measure 114!

News  

Thursday, September 15, 2022

OREGON: Vote NO on Ballot Measure 114!

Ballot Measure 114 is the nation’s most extreme gun control Initiative and will be voted on this November! The NRA has launched a website to inform voters why they must VOTE NO on Ballot Measure 114.  It ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.