May 19, 2024

and the Court

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 27 May 2022WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932Tragedy and the CourtBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift          WASHINGTON — Protect the embryos, not the kids is the mantra of the far-Right, and the far-Right controls the U.S. Supreme Court.          Beginning with the Bush v. Gore decision that determined the presidential election in 2000, the Court came to be perceived as a political rather than a judicial entity created to uphold the Constitution. If so, the Court needs to be construed for what it is. A political institution derives its credibility from public support, and when the public makes its outrage known, a political body can change. Indeed, it must change if democracy is to survive. And today, outrage is building throughout the nation.          Teenage shooters slaughtering innocents is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment. They never intended that every individual should have a cannon, much less an unenvisioned automatic rifle capable of killing small children in a matter of seconds.          The Second Amendment calls for: “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.”          It means what it says – a well regulated Militia – not an arsenal of military-style weapons in the hands of people who are often untrained or mentally unstable, and likely to turn their firepower on shoppers in a grocery store or children in a classroom watching a Disney movie.          The gun lobby worked assiduously over a period of years to expand the meaning of the Second Amendment from a well-regulated Militia to an individual right for every American to stockpile arms.          This individual right was codified into law by the Supreme Court in 2008 by the Heller decision. The late Justice Scalia, writing for the 5-4 majority, cautioned this right is not unlimited, and that states can impose reasonable regulations. Clearly, Heller has no constitutional foundation. It was wrongly decided.          But an emboldened gun rights movement motivated in part by fear over the election of Barack Obama carried the banner of the narrow decision, diligently expanding gun rights where they could, and ignoring any reasonable regulation.          There are now more guns in America than people, and after the latest horrendous and tragic shooting in Texas, gun industry stocks rose, and the NRA went ahead with plans for its annual convention in the state.          Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is expected to further expand gun rights when it hands down its decision next month in a New York case seeking to scrap the need for a permit to make “constitutional carry” lawful.          Today, there are few options left to control this contagion of military weapons designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone, to kill enemy soldiers. Why? Congress could pass gun safety legislation, and Democrats are working to see if they can find some compromise with Republicans to assure the country that the government is not powerless to stop the violence. But this is not enough. What rational argument can support the idea of arming civilians with automatic man-killing weapons?          Enter the now-third political branch of government, the U.S. Supreme Court. Any law passed by Congress can be overturned by the Court, and given the makeup of today’s Court, overturning any gun restrictive law is entirely possible. If that happened, and if it were combined with the overturn of a woman’s right to control her own body under Roe v. Wade, it could trigger a revolt against the Court.          By significant majorities, the public supports both reproductive rights and gun control, and the Supreme Court’s credibility will be seriously undermined if the justices proceed with rulings that undermine those positions. So, America’s dilemma has become the Court’s dilemma, and the justices need to tread carefully for the sake of the country, the Constitution, and the future of their seriously compromised branch of government.           See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND


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