Gun Rights and 'Justice Stevens' Foolishness'

Earlier this week I noted a Washington Post op-ed by John Paul Stevens, where the retired Supreme Court justice called for a constitutional amendment that would effectively abolish the individual right to keep and bear arms. If he had has way, Stevens said, he would rewrite the Second Amendment to read: "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." That op-ed has now prompted a timely letter to the editor from Robert A. Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute and one of the three libertarian lawyers (Clark Neily and Alan Gura are the others) who conceived and litigated District of Columbia v. Heller, the landmark 2008 case which definitively rejected Stevens' troubling interpretation of the Second Amendment. Here is what Levy had to say:

Former justice John Paul Stevens offered a truly radical proposal to amend the Constitution. He would limit gun rights to persons serving in the militia and only during their times of service. So, the District again would be able to tell my ex-clients, who justifiably feared for their safety in their drug-infested neighborhoods, that they could not keep a handgun at home for self-defense. Responsible citizens who are concerned about extremist views on gun rights should condemn Justice Stevens’s foolishness.

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  • Duke||

    Of course my law prof loved Stevens. And had a picture of FDR in his office. I don't get why law schools are bastions for flaming liberals.

  • Acosmist||

    I had a prof who clerked for Stevens. Got you beat there!

    ...he actually wasn't that bad a prof, though.

  • Duke||

    My administrative law prof took administrative law from Scalia when he was a prof at University of Chicago.

  • Number 2||

    Because otherwise they would have to go out into the real world and make a living like the rest of us by actually practicing law.

  • Brandon||

    Meh. I'm actually ok with them staying and teaching law school where they can only steal money from other future lawyers.

  • Jordan||

    Because liberals LOOOOOOOOOOOVE laws.

  • Number 2||

    Hey, give Stevens credit. At least now he recognizes that the Constitution needs to be amended to say that. He used to think that that was what the constitution currently says.

  • ||

    I hope this is sarcasm. He never thought any such thing. He knows what he wants and is trying to twist the 2nd into what it is not in order to have it. Typical lefty bullshit.

    His dissent in Heller included an assertion that the Founders would have made the individual right aspect of the Second Amendment express if that was what was intended, and yet he now argues that restricting the right to bear arms to state agents should be made explicit. So he argues that there is no individual right because it is not made explicit, and that the right only belongs to state agents even though it is not made explicit.

    Stevens did his country a great service by retiring.

  • ||

    I left out the part where it is made pretty clear by the use of 'the right of THE PEOPLE to keep and bear arms'.

    Stevens is a lying sack of shit.

  • Hydra||

    In Stevens' defense, you have to admit that the 2nd amendment is a grammatical mess. That prefatory clause is begging to be misunderstood as a qualification of the right to bear arms. It serves absolutely no purpose. For guys who were supposedly terrified of government tyranny, the Founders sure left a lot of loose threads in the Constitution for the statists to pull.

  • Paul.||

    "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."

    Does Stevens really sport this juvenile an intellect?

  • Hillary's Clitdong||

    And when Idaho declares that all adults with no felony records are members of the Idaho Militia, would Stevens rule that the Federal government may make no law infringing those adults' right to keep and bear military-grade small arms? Has any "collective rights" proponent actually thought through what they're arguing, or are they just going to CommerceClause away even the sliver of rights they claim exist under the Second?

  • Duke||

    What little I do remember about Stevens' opinions was that there was no obstacle he could not surmount and no logic he would not torture to forge his feelings on an issue into national law.

  • califernian||

    to be fair that goes for most of the judges, from the beginning all the way to the wise latina.

  • ||

    "Has any "collective rights" proponent actually thought through what they're arguing,....?

    Rhetorical?

  • ||

    "Has any "collective rights" proponent actually thought?"

    There. Fixed that for you. ;-)

  • Hydra||

    Well in that case they would argue that the right to bear arms has been subject to reasonable restrictions all the way back to the founding of the republic.

    What Stevens was trying to prevent was forcing anti-gun states like IL to have to respect the right to bear arms.

  • IT||

    Soooooo servicemen will be able to arm themselves at all times, regardless of what commanding officers might think. (I'm for allowing military personnel to be armed).

    Stevens is not so bright.

  • Drake||

    If true, I would be tempted to get back into the National Guard.

  • Paul.||

    Responsible citizens who are concerned about extremist views on gun rights should condemn Justice Stevens’s foolishness.

    This argument, while correct, misses the point of Stevens stupidity. Stevens, a former arbiter of all things constitutional, actually believes that the government needs to expressly give permission in the Bill of Rights for the military to arm itself.

    I really find it difficult to believe that Stevens is this dumb.

    So, the First Amendment could be interpreted as giving Jay Carney a right to give us evasive answers about the administration, but doesn't protect my right to expression in any way whatsoever?

  • Rich||

    He would limit gun rights to persons serving in the militia and only during their times of service.

    So, Justice Stevens would disarm the President's bodyguards?

  • John C. Randolph||

    Stevens demonstrated that he never should have been admitted to the bar, let alone the bench. His hostility towards our paramount civil right, the right to self-defense, shows that he's a would-be tyrant. To hell with him, and fuck Gerry Ford for nominating him.

    -jcr

  • ||

    I have no idea if there is a connection;

    Sept. 5, 1975 - Squeaky Fromme shoves a pistol in Ford's face.

    Nov. 8, 1975 - Ford nominates Stevens.

  • Pinky||

    "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 the State shall not be infringed."

    FIFY

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    The occasional horsewhipping or termination of a government stooge being necessary to the security of a free people, the right of the people to bear any arms commonly carried by agents of the government shall not be infringed.

    And I can just IMAGINE the howls of horror and outrage that would cause in Liberal Land.

  • LiveFreeOrDiet||

    Does that mean I need to wait to carry my 5.5 gj lightning gun?

  • Juice||

    So cops would be disarmed? Ok.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    What leads you to THAT conclusion? As agents of The State, they would obviously need to be armed against those danged uppity Citizens.

  • Juice||

    Well, they're not "the militia."

  • Tony||

    He is not arguing that guns must be banned except for militias. He's arguing for allowing states to regulate guns as they wish. Presumably they wouldn't choose to disarm cops.

  • Teaching Student||

    You're so full of shit. Stevens means exactly what he said, that the only individuals who should be allowed to bear arms are military members. Screw him and screw you.

  • Hydra||

    All hail Tony, apostle of States' Rights.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    This is what you get when Republican Presidents appoint "moderates" to the Court.

    When is the last time a Democratic President appointed a moderate justice who disappointed the Democrats? You'd probably have to go back to Byron White under JFK.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    The old fart's change would be irrelevant, as the Constitution affords the federal government no power whatsoever to regulate arms. This is nothing more than Stephens gasping for one last breath before he finally, mercifully leaves this world.

    And the feds don't need an amendment to ban guns. They'll do what they want regardless of the Constitution, as 200-year-old pieces of paper are powerless to stop political elites with hundreds of thousands of armed men at their disposal. You'd think we'd have wrapped our heads around this after Wilson and FDR, but I suppose debating fictional Constitutional authority might help keep our minds sharp. Judge Nap certainly seems to enjoy it.

  • Tony||

    He's talking about the states' right to regulate guns. States rights, ya know? States you would have the federal government trump and remove their freedom of action on this issue.

  • Hydra||

    States don't have rights, people do.

    To call a state's stripping of its people's rights "freedom of action" is Orwellian in the extreme.

  • Elmo||

    This is the same Robert A. Levy who is ok with bans on magazines of over 20 rounds? http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  • DH||

    He's also the very same one who thought the Manchin Toomey Deal was good for gun rights.

    http://reason.com/archives/201.....manchim-to

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Stevens' views seem to morph depending on the principals involved in the case (compare and contrast Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council[where law empowering administrative agencies are vague, courts should defer to administrative judgment because...expertise] with Massachusetts v. EPA[STFU! We'll tell you what pollution is and you'll like it!])

  • Vampire||

    I'm surprised he didn't say, "being that liberty is guaranteed, I would repeal the govt as it uses force, and violence against individuals which is antithetical to the natural rights that are imdividual freedom and liberty."

    Oops, I forgot that they use those words only when it benefits them.

  • RishJoMo||

    See now that is what I am talking about. Wow.

    www.GotsDatAnon.tk

  • Tony||

    Can't say it better than Mr. Stevens.

    Another day, another industry lobby telling libertarians what to think.

  • Rev Match||

    Do you not speak English? Even if you completely ignore the historical context, the elaborations on 2A expressed by the people who wrote it, and the definitions of the terms used as they were defined at the time of its writing you still end up with a sentence composed of a prepositional phrase and a statement. The statement is, "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." ("people" in contrast to "militia") Though, I suppose elementary sentence structure goes way over your head.

  • Tony||

    But I don't want to ignore historical context, which didn't recognize a personal right to own guns in the 2A until Heller, which was a stupid opinion.

    Ignoring the militia bit is what the NRA wants you to do. That doesn't make it reality.

  • Rev Match||

    Tony, really? IF that's true, there are a lot of in-context quotes, contained in things like the Federalist Papers, that you will have to answer for. I have a sneaking suspicion that you will be unable to do so. Also, since when do any of the BoR affirm a right of the USG at the expense of the people. (Hint: Never.)

  • Agile Cyborg||

    Historically, militias were simple as able-bodied men unrelated to your military organizations or law enforcement. The term 'militia' was likely used broadly back then to incorporate the collective every-day individual who personally owned that scary thing called a gun.

  • Tony||

    I get that, my argument is that it's obsolete, not that it says something other than what it says.

  • Rev Match||

    But I don't want to ignore historical context, which didn't recognize a personal right to own guns in the 2A until Heller, which was a stupid opinion.

    You are lying. But, for shits and giggs, in what way is it "obsolete"? Weapons still exist, individuals still exist, governments still exist, the implicit right to self-defense still exists. Therefor, I am at a loss as to what you mean by "obsolete".

  • DH||

    Are you new here? Most have learned to just disregard Tony. Responding to it will just make your head hurt. When you say you don't understand what obsolete means, you have to think from the perspective of a statist boot licker, which Tony is. He's trying to say the 2nd is obsolete because guns were only meant to be controlled by state and governmental interests. And now that we have standing armies and the National Guard, the 2nd is obsolete. It's a collectivist view of the 2nd that guns were only supposed to be used in a militia under orders from government overlords. There's also a civic view(individual for a collective good) and a individual view. In reality I would say the 2nd covers all three.

  • Tony||

    We have a national standing army. Like it or not, it makes grassroots state militias kind of pointless. The point of the 2A was for the states to have the constitutionally guaranteed ability to defend themselves from invasion. It has nothing to do with personal self-defense and it certainly doesn't sanction the armed overthrow of the government the document it's a part of establishes.

  • Rev Match||

    The point of the 2A was for the states to have the constitutionally guaranteed ability to defend themselves from invasion.

    No, it wasn't. None of the amendments that compose the BoR give any powers to the USG. Nor do they grant powers to anyone or anything else. All they do is explicitly prohibit the USG from certain things. In addition, there are literally no words to describe your blatant disregard for, not only things I have brought up, but anything and everything about Constitutional history.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    It's simple enough to understand the progressive perspective were you to begin with a foregone conclusion and then reason your way backwards. That's the way virtually everyone but a constitutionalist or libertarian operates, and it's what we should anticipate any time we butt heads with yet another statist.

    If your belief is that no one but the state should own guns, it's easy enough to create a justification for whatever policy you want. It will be transparent and completely unconvincing to anyone who understands either law or reality, but if you have enough cohorts with sufficient political power it won't matter. The left and right (Nixon and Reagan being notable GOP enemies of the 2A) are both guilty of doing this, so it's not like it's just village idiots like Obama who are attacking natural rights and harming innocents.

  • Tony||

    I don't believe no one but the state should own guns. I believe the state should have the most guns, as its purpose is to be the repository of legitimate force, so it only makes sense.

    But I do humbly submit that states should have the right to regulate human-killing machines in ways that aren't restricted by the constitution, and they did until Heller (judicial activism + federal government usurpation of states rights = libertarians love it!).

  • Rev Match||

    (judicial activism + federal government usurpation of states rights = libertarians love it!).

    In a sense you are right. The BoR of the federal Constitution literally only applies to the federal government (meaning that, in the true sense of federalism, it only says what the federal Gov't is prohibited from doing, not what it may then enforce.)

  • DH||

    I know most would disagree with me and most cases points towards the opposite but I always believed the supremacy clause of the constitution covered the states in regards to the amendments as well. Judge Lumpkin in Nunn Vs State seemed to think that way.

  • DaveSs||

    Except that it doesn't apply only to the Fed any more. And it was judicial activism that made it that way, but rather judicial activism that kept it from being that way.

    Waaaay back in the 1860s they passed this thing called the 14th Amendment. The States agreed that they too should be bound by the protections of individual rights in the Federal Constitution.

    Judicial activists decided they didn't really mean it and embarked on the stupidity of selective incorporation.

  • DaveSs||

    And it wasn't judicial activism that made it that way

  • Agile Cyborg||

    "...states should have the right to regulate human-killing machines in ways that aren't restricted by the constitution"

    I guess if one desires his or her state to completely ban all guns the constitution becomes a problem- but besides this extreme position what in the constitution inhibits states from establishing common sense gun regulations?

  • Rev Match||

    but besides this extreme position what in the constitution inhibits states from establishing common sense gun regulations?

    Not having been granted the explicit power to do so?

  • Agile Cyborg||

    The states aren't granted innumerable explicit powers in the constitution but this hasn't stopped them from writing legislative bibles either.

  • DH||

    Thats's why I always found the Federalist arguments for not having a bill of rights so weak. You know people would never abuse their power in regards to others.]

  • Hydra||

    Heller had nothing to do with the states, dolt. You mean McDonald. I do love that you're a states' rights apostle now.

    I believe the state should have the most guns, as its purpose is to be the repository of legitimate force, so it only makes sense.

    What happens when the state isn't behaving in a legitimate fashion?

  • Tony||

    Do let me know when legitimate elections stop happening, and I'll tell you.

  • kbolino||

    They'd have to start first.

    Somehow it's perfectly "reasonable" to demand identification and background checks to own a gun, but completely unacceptable and "racist" to require voters to prove their identity.

    Progressives: Democracy works! Except when I don't get what I like, and we don't really know if it's democracy or not because racism.

  • Hydra||

    Another day, another lazy post by Trollny.

  • Rockyvnvmc||

    People continue to make the same mistake, that Justice Stevens made, (or was it, perhaps, wishful thinking on his behalf?) when he erroneously assumed/asserted that the Bill of Rights actually 'Grants' anyone any given rights.

    The Bill of Rights 'grants' no rights, but instead, codifies pre-existing, 'natural rights', into our Constitution, thus guaranteeing that they will not be legislated away, by future legislatures.

    For instance; The 'right' to defense of self, family, home and community Far pre-dates any form of government ever designed by mankind.

    While I disagree with Obama/Soetoro/Soebarkah/Bounel aka 'The Lyin' King',(or Whatever his Real Name is)on just about everything, I will grant, that he actually told the truth, (for once) when he referred to the Constitution as 'A Charter of Negative Rights.' It wasn't written to 'grant' us any rights but to deny the government the right to take said 'rights' away.

    The same goes for all of the other first ten Amendments, to our Constitution.

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