Monday status conference: Up in ‘arms’

When it comes to determining if a local gun ban violates the Second Amendment, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement wants a more flexible standard.

In an amicus brief filed last Friday with the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller the Justice Deparment urged the Court to remand the case to lower court for an examination of whether the handguns banned by a Washington D.C. municipal law constitute “arms.”

“The court’s decision could be read to hold that the Second Amendment categorically precludes any ban on a category of ‘Arms’ that can be traced back to the Founding era,” the government argued, as reported by the Washington Post. “If adopted by this court, such an analysis could cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation prohibiting the possession of certain firearms, including machineguns.”

That came as a bit of good news to Walter E. Dellinger, the attorney left standing to helm the city’s appeal to the high court after a public shakeup at the D.C. Attorney General’s office. “While there is a great deal in the solicitor general’s opinion with which we disagree, I am gratified they recognize the Court of Appeals erred in striking down the District’s law without considering whether it was reasonable to ban a type of weapon – handguns – which can be concealed and carried into schools, office buildings and subways,” Dellinger told the Post.

The government’s filing is one in a big ol’ stack of amicus briefs filed Friday in the matter. Handily, SCOTUSBlog has assembled them here.

Friday was a busy day at the Court, which also granted cert petitions in a host of cases, including Engquist v. Oregon Department of Agriculture, 07-474, where the Court will consider whether a federal employee who is not a member of a protected group can sue for employment discrimination as a “class-of-one.” SCOTUSBlog has a nice wrap of the new cases on the Court’s docket here.

Today, the Court hears oral argument on cases dealing with the Fourth Amendment and TV’s Judge Alex’s arbitration dispute with a former manager.

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