Second Amendment Redux: McDonald v. Chicago Roundup

Less than 48 hours after the Supreme Court granted certiorari in McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521), the blogosphere is already reverberating with reactions. The question presented in McDonald is “Whether the Second Amendment is incorporated into the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment so as to be applicable to the States, thereby invalidating ordinances prohibiting possession of handguns in the home.”

In other words, the Supreme Court will tackle the knotty question of whether to extend the landmark holding of District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008)–that the Second Amendment entitles citizens to keep hand-guns in their homes for self-protection–to trump state and municipal regulations. As it stands, the Second Amendment protections established in Heller explicitly apply only to federal regulations.

Justice Sotomayor may be the newest member of the Supreme Court, but McDonald will not be her first time at the Second Amendment rodeo. Before she was elevated to the Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor, was on the Second Circuit panel that decided Maloney v. Cuomo, 554 F.3d 56 (2d Cir. 2009). Although the plaintiff’s weapon of choice in Maloney was a chuka stick rather than a handgun, the issue was essentially the same: whether the state’s ban on these weapons ran afoul of the Second Amendment’s grant of the right to bear and keep arms. The Second Circuit, like the Seventh Circuit in McDonald, declined to extend the Second Amendment’s protections to state regulations, leaving that task for the Supreme Court. See 554 F.3d at 59.

What will Justice Sotomayor do with the issue now that she (along with her Supreme Court colleagues) has the power to decide it? We will be watching.

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