Original intent

Oral argument will be heard today at SCOTUS in the landmark II Am. case of District of Columbia v. Heller (no. 07-290). At stake is whether the II Am. will be construed as guaranteeing an individual’s right to bear arms, or a collective right constitutionally inherent only to “state militia[s].”

For the best exposition on the individual right position, see Judge Silberman‘s masterful opinion in the D.C. Circuit precursor to Heller, Parker v. District of Columbia, 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007).

A sign of this case’s import is evidenced by the array and surprising allegiances of the amici in Heller. The Solicitor General of the U.S., the administration’s chief appellate lawyer, filed an amicus brief arguing that the D.C. Circuit’s decision upholding an individual right was incorrectly decided, at least in part. Finding this position untenable, the administration’s second-ranking official, Vice President Dick Cheney, joined another amicus brief arguing for SCOTUS to uphold Judge Silberman’s individual right holding.

When the tapes of the oral argument are released (and I’ll let you know when that happens), be sure to listen this is one of the most important constitutional law cases ever heard by the Court.

Thx to the Washington Post, and preemptive thanks to Justice Kennedy, whose sole vote will determine how the Framer’s words will be construed henceforth