While it was very nice of Retired Justice John Paul Stevens to give this in-kind contribution to the efforts of the GOP to keep the house, the fact that one of the leading Jurists in the nation choose to write a piece so divorced from reality demands a proper fisking and I’m just the Sicilian to do it.
For those unfamiliar with “Fisking” my comments on the Justice’s writing will appear in Bold red italics within the NYT piece. Here goes:
Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. Really? I seem to recall particularly over the past 6 years Tea Party Groups get engaged civically by the millions. I’m pretty sure you were alive then, or perhaps you didn’t notice them?
These demonstrations demand our respect. Not when the leave behind a giant mess for other people to clean at the Taxpayer’s expense they don’t They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society. Funny, every single year a group many times larger than these folks turn up for the actual March for Life, yet for some reason neither the justice nor the NYT finds that as proof of broad public support for legislation to minimize the mass killings of children from abortion.
That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation As opposed to the tea party and march for life protests that were not a clear sign for anything at all and much be ignored at all costs prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. Really, given the signs we saw it and the inability of those present to even define an “assault weapon” it seems to me the only clear sign that the “demonstrators” had was: “elect liberal democrats” But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment. I’m sure many of them would agree but not in public.
Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “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 wasn’t just concern for a standing army. The colonists had direct experience with a tyrannical government trying to take their weapons away, see Lexington and Concord, they also were plenty on the front lines of the Indian wars and those not on the front lines had living memory of being so. Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century. Tell the people in countries like Cuba, North Korea, Venezuelan, Nigeria, Syria South Africa and many other places without the 2nd amendment that concerns of a tyrannical government or other various groups threatening violence aren’t a concern
For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. As I recall it also believed for over 200 years after the adoption of the constitution and for centuries before that Homosexuality was wrong, that marriage was between a man and a woman and that transsexuals were mental ill, oddly enough that didn’t stop the Supreme Court from declaring these things constitutional rights. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.” And in 1896 a 7-1 majority ruled “separate but equal” was just fine in Plessy v Ferguson does that mean we should believe the same today?
During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. And during that same period no federal judge to my knowledge expressed any doubt that such a thing as “gay marriage” existed. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” Oddly enough Chief Justice Taney had some very strong public opinions on negroes descended from African Slaves in the 1850’s. By your standard those opinions should be cited in arguments about race today,
In 2008, the Supreme Court overturned Chief Justice Burger’s and others’ long-settled understanding of the Second Amendment’s limited reach by ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. And Brown vs Board of Education overturned long-settled understandings on race? Did that make it illegitimate? I was among the four dissenters. You lost an argument, it happens.
That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable A perfectly valid opinion on his part and one of the few statements in this piece that is solid. He has the right to his opinion and dissent. — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. You know I don’t remember anyone arguing Roe v Wade was about “propaganda” for Planned Parenthood. Nor do I recall anyone ever claiming that about either the Lawrence decision or Brown vs Board of Education etc. Apparently decisions are only “propaganda” if they disagree with Mr. Justice Stevens rulings. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple Simple? Really? There is a reason why there are so few amendments to the constitution because it’s HARD to do. and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option. Actually such an attempt is more likely to swell the NRA’s ranks and anything close to success in such an effort is very likely to cause a new actual shooting civil war than any other issue.
That simple but dramatic action would move Saturday’s marchers closer to their objective Of electing democrats and virtue signaling? than any other possible reform. I dispute the use of the word “reform” here but he’s telling the truth because the real goal of the folks behind the march is firearms confiscation. It would eliminate the only legal rule that protects sellers of firearms in the United States — unlike every other market in the world. You know the United States is also been the strongest, richest and most robust large county in the history of history as well, might that unique status have something to do with the freedoms the Justice wants to remove. It would make our schoolchildren safer than they have been since 2008 Have our children become less safe? The stats suggest otherwise, unless you live in a place like Chicago where the gun laws have been written by the very same people leading these marches that is. and honor the memories of the many, indeed far too many, victims of recent gun violence. How would disarming law abiding Americans who had nothing to do with a crime “honor” the victims of violent crime? If you want to honor those folks you could then actually schools with the same armed guards that protected you as a justice, rather than using dead kids a political prop, of course that doesn’t help elect Democrats does it?
You know what’s really scary about this piece, the fact the realization that a person this out of touch was deciding the laws of this nation for decades.
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