Cato Supreme Court Review: 2007-2008

By Robert A. Levy; Ilya Shapiro et al. | Go to book overview

District of Columbia v. Heller:
The Second Amendment Is Back, Baby

Clark Neily*

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free
State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not
be infringed.

U.S. Const., Amend. II

For more than 200 years, the Second Amendment was a sort of constitutional Loch Ness Monster: Despite occasional reported sightings, many people—and certainly most judges—were inclined to believe it did not really exist. But that changed dramatically on June 26, 2008, when the Supreme Court handed down District of Columbia v. Heller,1 in which it unambiguously held, for the first time in history, that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.

As with any newly discovered constitutional right, the precise scope and content of the Second Amendment remain unclear and will have to be fleshed out in subsequent litigation. Within hours of the Court's announcement of the Heller decision (which struck down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban), my co-counsel Alan Gura

*Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice, and co-counsel for the plaintiffs in District
of Columbia v. Heller
. I would like to thank my co-counsel Bob Levy and Alan Gura
for their extraordinary work on this case and their unflagging commitment to vindicat-
ing our clients' constitutional right to have a gun in their homes for self-defense. I
would also like to thank our clients, Dick Heller, Shelly Parker, Tom Palmer, Tracey
Ambeau, Gillian St. Lawrence, and George Lyon, each of whom has been a sincere,
passionate, and articulate champion of the Second Amendment.

1 554 U.S.———, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008).

-127-

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