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DC Appeals Court Cites Dred Scott Case to Justify Negating 70 Years of Supreme Court Precedent

Brian Zick

In a 3 to 2 decision of judges all appointed by Republicans, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday ruled that the District's longtime ban on keeping handguns in homes is unconstitutional. David Nakamura and Robert Barnes for Wapo report: The panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit became the nation's first federal appeals court to overturn a gun-control law by declaring that the Second Amendment grants a person the right to possess firearms. One other circuit shares that viewpoint on individual rights, but others across the country say the protection that the Second Amendment offers relates to states being able to maintain a militia. Legal experts said the conflict could lead to the first Supreme Court review of the issue in nearly 70 years The opinion relied on cherry picking a segment of the Second Amendment, isolating out of context the portion of the amendment which then serves to provide meaning that gun control opponents prefer. Basically, the author of the opinion. Judge Laurence Silberman, reads the Amendment like this: "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." In crafting his opinion, the Washington Wire at the WSJ reports that Judge Silberman not merely read only half of the Second Amendment sentence, but he relied on a cite of the Dred Scott case to justify his reasoning. Just to refresh the mind: The Supreme Court decision Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared that slaves were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. In addition, this decision declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. It apparently doesn't occur to Silberman (and Thomas B. Griffith, who joined in the opinion) that the author of one of the absolute worst Supreme Court decisions in the entire history of the United States might also have erred in the textual construction of the opinion. via Kevin Drum

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