Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hello to Arms

According to published accounts of the Supreme Court's gun control argument, a majority of the Justices appear ready to strike down the District of Columbia's handgun ban. And which majority? Why, the Chief Justice, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito.

You know, it would be nice if, just for a change, a major issue like this didn't break down along ideological lines. I haven't done the research on the Second Amendment and I honestly don't know which side I find more convincing. I am open to the argument that the amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership. I am also open to the argument that the amendment's unique preamble limits its reach to militia-related matters. I'd want to know a lot more about the amendment and its terms before making up my mind.

But were I a judge, I hope I'd be able to make up my mind based on the law and not on my ideological preconceptions. Of course it's easy to make this boast knowing that it won't get put to the test, but really, why should the conservatives all conclude that the amendment protects an individual right and the liberals not? Don't liberals normally like individual rights? Don't conservatives normally favor the government? It's somehwat dreary to think that judges are so ideological that they can't even stick to their general ideological stances but have to follow even the sub-points of ideology rather than just trying to figure out what the Constitution means.


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Anonymous said...

"Don't liberals normally like individual rights? Don't conservatives normally favor the government?"

The answers are no, and yes.

Liberals, as the label is currently popularly applied, like privileges, not rights. They simply couch them as rights. They precede the word "rights" with adjectives, such as "minority" or "women's" or "gay", which makes the desired empowerments privileges for the specific 'adjective-ized' group to the derogation of the public as a whole.

"Rights" is disingenuously used for the purpose of artificially elevating the stature of a cause. Usually, the actual underlying universal right is simply being violated, or is not a right at all - no special privilege is needed. Rights apply to all persons and need no group specification.

Conservatives, in the same current popularly applied political sense, do favor government, but are somewhat constricted in that they have to pretend that they do not in their rhetoric. The Bush administration position that there is an individual right to keep and bear arms, but that government may 'regulate' it virtually completely away as does DC, is an example of this.

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