Justice Stevens: Let’s Amend the Second Amendment!

509dc0bd623f13bee37e051c437dd270Retired Justice John Paul Stevens was one of the great mischief-makers in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. At age 93, he has now written a book in which he recommends six amendments to the Constitution. Presumably these are the changes he wasn’t able to implement the easy way, via a 5-4 vote on the court.

One of Stevens’ proposed changes relates to the Second Amendment, and is intended to reverse Stevens’ loss in the Heller and McDonald cases:

Stevens is not going to win any friends at the National Rifle Association, because his undisguised agenda is to make it easier to regulate the sale and ownership of firearms. …

For a couple of centuries, you might be surprised to learn, the Supreme Court didn’t say exactly what the Second Amendment means. As far as Stevens can tell, “federal judges uniformly understood that the right protected by the text was limited in two ways: first, it applied only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, and second, while it limited the power of the federal government, it did not impose any limit whatsoever on the power of states or local governments to regulate the ownership or use of firearms.”

To restore gun control, Stevens proposes the following amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.

Given that all able-bodied males between the ages of 17 and 45 are members of the militia of the United States (10 U.S.C. Sec. 311), with no concept of “service” set forth, it is not clear to me that Stevens’ amendment would have the effect he desires. It is a moot point, of course, as no such amendment is going to pass.

I want to highlight two points: First, Stevens complains about the fact that in McDonald, the Court held that states, like the federal government, cannot infringe the right to keep and bear arms. This is disingenuous, to put it mildly. Virtually the entire Bill of Rights has been “incorporated” against the states by virtue of the 14th Amendment. Stevens and his liberal predecessors on the Court voted, over and over, for such “incorporation.” It would be remarkable if the right to keep and bear arms were virtually the only one that does not constrain state and local governments.

Second, consider Stevens’ stunning lack of self-awareness:

Stevens also observes that whether one thinks Heller was right or wrong, the decision had the effect of shifting the ultimate power to determine the validity of gun control laws from elected politicians to life-tenured federal judges.

No kidding! Just like abortion, and gay marriage, and all the other landmark liberal decisions that Stevens and his left-wing peers and successors voted for so enthusiastically. The whole point of judicial liberalism is to take decision-making from the voters and elected politicians, and place it in the hands of presumably more enlightened (i.e., more liberal) judges.

We are living through dark days, but this is one thing we can be grateful for: Justice John Paul Stevens is no longer on the Supreme Court.

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