Wednesday, July 17, 2019

John Paul Stevens v. Antonin Scalia

Matt Ford in The New Republic (When John Paul Stevens eviscerated Antonin Scalia) :

John Paul Stevens, who died on Tuesday, served on the Supreme Court for 35 years. His tenure, the second-longest in the court’s history, placed him in the middle of the great legal controversies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries: on abortion and gay rights, Bush v. Gore and campaign finance, federalism and the death penalty. 

To Stevens, however, one of the court’s rulings stood out beyond all others.

“District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to possess a firearm under the Constitution, is unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench,” he wrote in The Atlantic in May. 

In 2008, Stevens wrote the principal dissent in the 5–4 decision, strongly arguing that the Second Amendment only protected a collective right to bear arms as part of militia service. The majority, led by Justice Antonin Scalia, concluded otherwise.

Heller was a watershed moment for originalism, a school of legal interpretation that generally argues that the Constitution’s provisions should be interpreted according to their original public meaning. 

Scalia, one of the early originalist apostles, wielded an array of historical and legal sources to find an individual right to bear arms in the amendment for the first time. With five originalist-minded jurists now sitting on the high court, Stevens’s rebuttal is more salient than ever...

Labels: , ,