Transcript: Heller SCOTUS case

Transcript: Heller SCOTUS case (PDF)


CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: If you're right, Mr. Dellinger, it's certainly an odd way in the Second Amendment to phrase the operative provision. If it is limited to State militias, why would they say "the right of the people"? In other words, why wouldn't they say "state militias have the right to keep arms"? (p 4)

JUSTICE KENNEDY: One of the concerns, Mr. Dellinger, of the framers, was not to establish a practice of amending the Constitution and its important provisions, and it seems to me that there is an interpretation of the Second Amendment differing from that of the district court and in Miller and not advanced particularly in the red brief, but that conforms the two clauses and in effect delinks them. The first clause I submit can be read consistently with the purpose I've indicated of simply reaffirming the existence and the importance of the militia clause. Those were very important clauses. As you've indicated, they're in Article I and Article II. And so in effect the amendment says we reaffirm the right to have a militia, we've established it, but in addition, there is a right to bear arms. (pp 5-6)

JUSTICE SCALIA: I don't see how there's any, any, any contradiction between reading the second clause as a -- as a personal guarantee and reading the first one as assuring the existence of a militia, not necessarily a State-managed militia because the militia that resisted the British was not State- managed. But why isn't it perfectly plausible, indeed reasonable, to assume that since the framers knew that the way militias were destroyed by tyrants in the past was not by passing a law against militias, but by taking away the people's weapons -- that was the way militias were destroyed. The two clauses go together beautifully: Since we need a militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. (p 7)

JUSTICE SCALIA: Blackstone thought it was important. Blackstone thought it was important. He thought the right of self-defense was inherent, and the framers were devoted to Blackstone. Joseph Story, the first commentator on the Constitution and a member of this Court, thought it was a personal guarantee. (p 8-9)

JUSTICE KENNEDY: Well, there's no question that the English struggled with how to work this. You couldn't conceal a gun and you also couldn't carry it, but yet you had a right to have it. Do you think the Second Amendment is more restrictive or more expansive of the right than the English Bill of Rights in 1689? (p 16)

JUSTICE SCALIA: Doesn't "well regulated" mean "well trained"? It doesn't mean -- it doesn't mean "massively regulated." It means "well trained." (p 26)

Comment: 108 pages!

NYTimes: Supreme Court Hears Gun-Control Case

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