Saturday, October 6, 2007

Guns and the Supreme Court

One of the cases the Supreme Court is likely to consider this term revolves around a Washington D.C. law that bars residents from keeping handguns in their homes. A lower court struck down the ban in March and Washington has appealed to the Supreme Court. If the justices hear the appeal, they could issue the first ruling on whether the Second Amendment right to bear arms protects individuals or only state militias.

Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley comes reluctantly to the conclusion that contrary to the arguments of his fellow liberals the Second Amendment of the Constitution does indeed protect an individual's right to own a firearm. Turley is to be commended for placing principle above personal preference. He writes:

Like many academics, I was happy to blissfully ignore the Second Amendment. It did not fit neatly into my socially liberal agenda. Yet, two related cases could now force liberals into a crisis of conscience. The Supreme Court is expected to accept review of District of Columbia v. Heller and Parker v. District of Columbia, involving constitutional challenges to the gun-control laws in Washington...

Principle is a terrible thing, because it demands not what is convenient but what is right. It is hard to read the Second Amendment and not honestly conclude that the Framers intended gun ownership to be an individual right. It is true that the amendment begins with a reference to militias: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Accordingly, it is argued, this amendment protects the right of the militia to bear arms, not the individual.

Yet, if true, the Second Amendment would be effectively declared a defunct provision. The National Guard is not a true militia in the sense of the Second Amendment and, since the District and others believe governments can ban guns entirely, the Second Amendment would be read out of existence.

There's much more to his argument at the link. One thing about the objection he mentions above concerning the intent of the Framers is that even if their words seemed to limit the right to bear arms to militias, how can liberals justify placing a narrow interpretion on this amendment when they insist on placing the most expansive interpretation on the First Amendment?

Clearly, the Framers had politics and religion in mind when they conferred upon us the right to free speech, but the Supreme Court has subsequently expanded that right to cover things like pornography which there's no reason to believe the Framers wished to include. How can we justify expanding First Amendment rights to pornographers while restricting Second Amendment rights to militiamen who no longer exist?


Tough Questions for Mrs. Clinton

Dick Morris suggests a number of tough questions that journalists might ask Senator Clinton if she deigns to make herself available to them again. Here are six of them:

1) Bill Clinton refused to accept political action committee (PAC) contributions in his campaigns of 1992 and 1996. Obama and Edwards are following his example. Why aren't you?

2) After all the bad experiences you had with Johnnie Chung and Charlie Trie and their campaign donations in the 1996 election cycle, why were you not more careful in vetting the donations generated by Norman Hsu? Didn't you learn your lesson in 1996?

(As a follow-up to No. 2) After you found that you had to return almost a million dollars to the donors bundled by Hsu, you said you would be more vigilant in examining the backgrounds of donors. Why didn't you come to that conclusion before the Hsu scandal, based on your 1996 experiences?

3) Norman Hsu was no ordinary donor. He was the biggest bundler in your campaign; he gave funds to the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton School of Government in Arkansas and took Patti Solis Doyle, your campaign manager, and other aides on an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas. He also donated to Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, whose campaign debt you agreed to help repay.

In view of his high profile in your campaign, why didn't you check him out more thoroughly, and what does this say about your ability to make quality appointments?

4) You base your healthcare proposal on the need to cover 47 million "uninsured Americans." Since about a third of them are illegal immigrants and another third are eligible for Medicaid right now and just don't apply for it, aren't you overstating the problem?

(As a follow-up to No. 4) In 2005 you co-sponsored legislation to provide health insurance to the children of illegal immigrants who have lived in this country for five years. In other words, their children would get subsidized healthcare under the State Children's Health Insurance Program as a reward for dodging the cops for five years. Do you still support that proposal?

5) You say that your healthcare proposal will leave alone those who are happy with their current insurance. But if you provide health benefits for close to 50 million new people, thereby generating huge new demand for medical care without any increase in the supply of doctors, nurses or hospitals, it will drive up prices radically. Won't that force you to institute cost controls by limiting the care those now on health insurance can receive?

6) In Arkansas, you achieved fame by urging mandatory testing for teachers and demanded that those who failed the competency tests be dismissed. You and your husband did this and implemented this policy. As a result, he was denied the endorsement by the Arkansas Teachers Union during his time as governor. Do you still support your proposal of 1983 and 1984 for mandatory teacher competency tests for current teachers - not just for new ones?

I'm a little dubious that anyone will actually have the temerity to ask these questions of Mrs. Clinton and even more dubious that she'd give a straightforward answer to them, but we'll see.