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
Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

News  

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Biden Administration Bans Importation of Russian Ammunition

The Biden Administration’s Department of State announced that it will soon prohibit the importation of Russian ammunition into the United States. According to a release on the Department of State’s website, “[n]ew and pending permit applications ...

The Second Amendment Now Comes with Government-Issued “Harmful Language Alert”

News  

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Second Amendment Now Comes with Government-Issued “Harmful Language Alert”

The absurdity and dysfunction of the Biden Administration have become so pervasive that it’s easy to become numb to it all. But some things it does are still so outrageous and inconceivable – touching on ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Atlantic Writer Promotes Culture War on Gun Ownership

News  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Atlantic Writer Promotes Culture War on Gun Ownership

Canadian-born political commentator and George W. Bush-era speechwriter David Frum has taken a break from promoting actual wars in the Middle East to advocate for a culture war on gun ownership here at home.

Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

News  

Monday, July 26, 2021

Biden Reiterates Call to Ban 9mm Handguns

During a July 21 CNN “presidential town hall,” Joe Biden expressed his support for a ban on commonly-owned handguns. Responding to a question about the recent increase in violent crime, the career politician stated,

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Monday, June 30, 2014

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton's Office Puts Woke Corporations on Notice

Friday, September 10, 2021

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton's Office Puts Woke Corporations on Notice

As NRA-ILA reported to you last week, a dozen new pro-Second Amendment bills took effect on September 1, including Senate Bill 19 sponsored by State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and State Rep. Gio Capriglione (R-Southlake).  Taxpayer dollars should ...

NRA Files Comments Opposing ATF’s “Stabilizing Brace” Proposed Rule

News  

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

NRA Files Comments Opposing ATF’s “Stabilizing Brace” Proposed Rule

As we’ve previously reported, the Biden Department of Justice is threatening to upend the U.S. firearm industry and how Americans exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Trudeau Ramps Up Gun Control Promises, Makes Guns a Wedge Issue

News  

Monday, September 13, 2021

Trudeau Ramps Up Gun Control Promises, Makes Guns a Wedge Issue

With days to go until the September 20 snap election called by Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader and current Prime Minister, face the possibility of losing seats. As of early September, the Conservative Party had overtaken Trudeau’s Liberals as ...

URGENT! September 8 Deadline Last Chance to Submit Comments on Proposed Rule for Stabilizing Braces

News  

Monday, September 6, 2021

URGENT! September 8 Deadline Last Chance to Submit Comments on Proposed Rule for Stabilizing Braces

In June, ATF published a new notice of proposed rulemaking on its website entitled Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached “Stabilizing Braces.” If implemented, the new rule could impact millions of law-abiding gun owners.  If you want to help stop ...

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.