Support VSSA Advertisers

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Live Blogging the Oral Argument

Well, it did not take long for Chief Justice Roberts to go after D.C. attorney Walter Dellinger for his assertion that the Second Amendment was intended for a militia. And now both Kennedy and Scalia have weighed in. Dellinger got about five minutes into his remarks before the justices started their questions. Dellinger is clearly on the defense. I find it conforting that Kennedy has joined Roberts and Scalia in there peppering of Dellinger.

Dellinger just referred to the 42 states that have protected the individual right to keep and bear arms but have also placed "reasonable" restrictions. Roberts asks "is it reasonable be ban a complete class of firearms?"

Dellinger says the District does allow some operable firearms. Alito nails him on the fact it has to be inoperable. Dellinger is saying the District now has no argument with having a firearm for self-defense. This however is not what the DC code states.

Stevens asks how Gura can explain why neither the Articles of Confederation nor the Constitution explicitly refers to self-defense.

Breyer now asks why the total ban on handguns is a reasonable regulation. Dellinger is going back to the "well regulated militia" for his answer and Scalia interupts him to say that "well regulated" does not mean "massively regulated."

Solicitor General Clement is now testifying. He is already playing the weasel that he played in his amicus. Kennedy asks him if his position is that the people who lived in the wilderness did not have the right to have arms for self defense and Clement tries to have it both ways. That the militia was foremost in the Founders mind.

1:26 PM

I had to step away for a meeting and missed most of the Clement argument and the first part of Gura's statements. He is now being questioned by Breyer. SCOTUS Blog has a live online poll and the majority of responders beleve Dellinger performed poorly and Clement was average.

Breyer asks why cities should not be given leeway to construct firearms regulations to meet local problems.

Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSblog: In an argument that ran 23 minutes beyond the allotted time, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy emerged as a fervent defender of the right of domestic self-defense. With Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Antonin Scalia leaving little doubt that they favor an individual rights interpretation of the Amendment (and with Justice Clarence Thomas, though silent on Tuesday, having intimated earlier that he may well be sympathetic to that view), Kennedy’s inclinations might make him -- once more -- the holder of the deciding vote. At one key point, he suggested that the one Supreme Court precedent that at least hints that gun rights are tied to military not private needs — the 1939 decision in U.S. v. Miller — “may be deficient” in that respect.


Dellinger is back up and Roberts is going at him on how long it would take to get a trigger lock off and load the gun if it were needed. Dellinger is struggling with response. Scalia has joined in now. He says "its on you end table so you have to turn on the lamp and pick up your reading glasses" to laughter. Dellinger said it takes three seconds but this does not make a difference in the hand gun ban. He is going back that residents can use arms for self defense.

Roberts ask what proof is there that a rifle or shotgun is better than a handgun for self defense.

Alito is now part of the party going after the trigger lock provision.

I just can't get past the fact that Dellinger continually repeats that the District is not challenging the provision that residents can use another form of firearm for self defense. Roberts is asking why DC has a "carry provision" that prohibits you to carry it from one room to another.

The arguments have not wrapped up and I have another meeting to attend. You can get a great summary of the arguments here.

No comments: