Pesky Amendmentses

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Some of you might have noticed that I go off about stuff in the United States a lot.  It’s not that I understand a whole lot about American politics or law or anything like that (hey, I’m Canadian), but I have managed to notice that idiocy on one side of the border will sooner or later spill over to the other.

In other words: if it happens there, it’s likely to happen here too.  That works both ways, in case you’re wondering.  Just look at some of the idiot-talk there’s been south of the border lately about setting up their own national gun registry.  So that’s why I keep an eye on American stuff and write about it (Dennis can cover the Canadian side of the border, god knows he’s got enough opinions).

I also like to think that I’m a guy who knows bullshit when he smells it.  And the latest stuff could fertilize half the fields in the whole midwest.

For starters, it seems the US Constitution isn’t exactly for the United States, it’s just for… well, I’m not exactly where they think it’s for.  Investors.com has some of it:

Those Pennsylvania townsfolk bitterly clinging to their guns may have been premature in celebrating the decision in D.C. v. Heller that the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does indeed guarantee an individual right to keep and bear arms.

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In Heller, the Supreme Court overturned the District of Columbia’s draconian, 32-year-old gun ban. It barred most of the district’s residents from owning handguns and required that all legal firearms be kept unloaded or disassembled under trigger lock. If predators broke into your house, some assembly would be required.

In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court ruled that the 2nd Amendment indeed protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

Not so fast. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected subsequent suits brought by the National Rifle Association against the city of Chicago and its suburb of Oak Park, both of which believe the Constitution prevents citizens from defending themselves.

The Circuit Court decision was written by Judge Frank Easterbrook and joined by Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer. Easterbrook’s reasoning is fascinating. [and creepy as hell]

“Heller dealt with a law enacted under the authority of the national government,” Easterbrook wrote, “while Chicago and Oak Park are subordinate bodies of a state.” We’re all for federalism, but the U.S. Constitution is the U.S. Constitution. [wtf?]

Surely he can’t be serious. But he is, and agreeing with him is Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. [you can read the whole story here]

So there you have it.  The US Constitution is just for the US, not for the cities and states that are in… um, the US.  Yep, that’s a big steaming heap, alright.

In case you’re wondering who this Sotomayer broad is, she’s President Bananafanafofama’s favourite pick to be the next social engineer on the US Supreme Court (yes, the same one that upheld individual rights in the Heller case).  She’s his favourite because apparently, she’s supposedly got some real big empathy skills.  What the hell that has to do with being able to read the damn Constitution and do as it says, I have no idea.  But it makes her really good at ignoring laws she doesn’t like and inventing ones that she does.

Fox News has some stuff to say about this skulduggery, too (wow, isn’t that a surprise?):

This week a federal appeals court held that the Second Amendment does not apply to state or city gun laws. Supporters of Judge Sonia Sotomayor incorrectly argue that this affirms her recent gun-control case. Now the NRA is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, and in doing so heats up the gun-rights issue to potentially become the dominant topic in Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. [sounds like a good idea]

The Seventh Circuit held that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not apply to state or city laws. All three judges on the panel hearing the case were appointed by Republican presidents. [oops] In January, Sotomayor was on a three-judge panel from the Second Circuit that similarly held that the Second Amendment affects only federal law, not state or local law. Supporters of Sotomayor are touting the Chicago ruling as proof that her Second Circuit case, Maloney v. Cuomo, was a mainstream opinion, arguing that the Seventh Circuit agrees with her.But that’s not exactly correct.

Originally, the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government. Then during the 1900s, the Supreme Court began applying (or “incorporating”) most of the Bill of Rights to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Before that time, the Supreme Court had held back in 1876, and again in 1886, that the Second Amendment does not apply to the states. But it never had an occasion to revisit the Second Amendment during the 1900s incorporation cases. It also did not need to do so last year in the Heller case because Washington, D.C. is a federal enclave, not a state, and is therefore directly controlled by the Bill of Rights.

As recently as 1997 the Supreme Court reiterated that even old precedents from the High Court bind all lower courts. The Seventh Circuit appropriately noted the Supreme Court’s instructions, and concluded that questions about whether the Second Amendment is incorporated, “are for the [Supreme Court’s] Justices rather than a court of appeals.” In other words, they recognized that after last year’s Heller case the Supreme Court appeared ready to incorporate the Second Amendment, but the Seventh Circuit considered their hands tied on the issue. They essentially have tossed the case up to the Supreme Court.

Contrast the Seventh Circuit’s opinion with Sotomayor’s Maloney case from the Second Circuit. This week the Seventh Circuit devoted nine pages to its analysis. The Ninth Circuit, which held in April that the Second Amendment is incorporated to the states, devoted 12 pages to its analysis.

Sotomayor’s Second Circuit devoted merely a single paragraph to the issue. The opinion does not even note that there has been a century of Supreme Court cases—15 cases, to be exact—incorporating various Bill of Rights provisions to the states. It simply embraced the 1886 Supreme Court case on the issue, said the Second Amendment does not apply whatsoever to the states, and then dropped the issue without further discussion. [you can read the whole thing here]

There you have it again.  The Queen has spoken.  Off with their heads.  Move along, people, nothing to see here.  Marvelously empathetic of her, wasn’t it?

It all makes me wonder: where else might those pesky “Amendment Things” not apply?

Can we ignore that silly 13th amendment south of the Mason-Dixon line?  Come on, Sonia, empathize with those poor plantation owners.  All that cotton ain’t gonna pick itself.

Or how about that 19th amendment?  That damn thing’s been nothing but trouble, you know.

OH!  OH!!  Wait a minute!  I’ve really got one now!   Why not just flip the bird to the 16th amendmentin EVERY state?  Now that would be some serious empathy, you betcha.  Go for it, Sonia, everybody would love you.  Maybe even the NRA.

Hell, even I’d probably say something nice about you then.

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