High Court to hear DC handgun ban case

In a case that could redefine the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” in the modern era, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of Washington D.C.’s ban on handguns.

The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, is an appeal by Washington D.C. city officials of a decision by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which struck down a law prohibiting the private possession of handguns in the district. [The cert petition, briefs and other materials can be found here on the ABA’s website.]

In granting certiorari in the case, the Court ordered that the case would be “limited to the following question: Whether the following provisions, D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02, violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

Despite the word “limited,” Heller promises to yield the first major Second Amendment case from the Court since the case of U.S. v. Miller in 1939.

Barely an hour after the cert grant, groups are already weighing in.

“By agreeing to hear the appeal by the District of Columbia in [this] case, the U.S. Supreme Court has the chance to reverse a clearly erroneous decision and make it clear that the Constitution does not prevent communities from having the gun laws they believe are needed to protect public safety,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in a statement released minutes after the cert petition was granted. “The decision by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the Parker case was an example of judicial activism at its worst. It ignored longstanding Supreme Court precedent, discounted the express language of the Second Amendment, and substituted its policy preferences for those of the District’s elected representatives. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will reverse this flawed ruling.”

Today the Court also granted certiorari in the case Chamber of Commerce v. Brown, Where it will consider whether the National Labor Relations Act preempts a California law that prohibits private employers that receive state grant and program funds from using those funds “to assist, promote, or deter union organizing.” [See summary here from the website Employment Law Memo.]


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