Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Landmark Status v. Heller

There is an interesting article in today's Times about how so far the Supreme Court's "landmark" decision this past summer in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down D.C.'s ban on handguns, has proven to be practically irrelevant so far. Since that decision came down, the federal courts have heard more than 80 cases interpreting Heller, and according to Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who keeps a running tally of decisions based on the case, “to date, the federal courts have not invalidated a single gun control law on the basis of the Second Amendment since Heller.” The open question on this issue that remains to be resolved is whether the decision applies to the states. In the past the Supreme Court has ruled that most of the Bill of Rights are incorporated to the states by the 14th Amendment, but it is not clear yet whether the 2nd Amendment will fall into this category. For now, it seems that what was considered to be a groundbreaking SCOTUS decision will only carry importance to constitutional scholars, who are left free to wonder: if Joe Biden was carrying a handgun in violation of D.C.'s now-defunct weapons ban during 12:01 and 12:03 on Inauguration Day, would this qualify as an impeachable offense under Article II and mean that, in fact, Nancy Pelosi (or Condoleeza Rice, depending on how far you want to take this ) "was president" for those 2 minutes.

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