The Supreme Court Breakfast Table
Dear Jack and Walter and Cliff:
Walter, your last post really drove home the reality that we are going to be covering gun cases at the Supreme Court for years to come, aren't we? Perhaps in much the same way the justices used to screen porn for First Amendment purposes, they can now finally build that little shooting range next to the gift shop. Wait, no. The high court is actually one of the few places in America where you still can't carry a gun. Well that's sure lucky.
I guess the consensus from today's op-eds and my inbox is that the Heller decision is basically principled (as Cliff has urged) and really quite limited (as everyone but Walter insists). And that maybe a robust reading of the Second Amendment is ultimately a good thing for progressives, and maybe all that language about militias really was just dicta, and maybe the whole fight for gun control is just too totally '90s. Clearly there is nobody more confused about his own love-hate relationship with the American gun than Sen. Barack Obama, whose constitutional koan yesterday is incomprehensible on virtually every level: "I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures." Maybe it's not an accident that liberals found it so easy to capitulate on the issue of guns. You can almost hear the relief in our voices today: Could we be more tough and manly?
Walter and Jack and Cliff, I know that you are all busy, and I also realize that banging out rough first impressions of 300-page opinions for publication is hardly an exercise with which most lawyers feel totally comfortable. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and insights with us this week. One of my favorite Slatereaders sent a note yesterday conveying his thanks that "[i]n an election year and a journalistic climate where people shout rather than debate, how remarkable to have a respectful debate." I enthusiastically concur. See you 'round the court.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.