A Lesson in Constitutional Interpretation

In light of the current debate on Capitol Hill, the quotation of the day comes from the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in D.C. v. Heller:

Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment. We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997), and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001), the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.

h/t Aaron Spuler at Weapon Blog for reminding me of this passage.

McCain’s Eligibility – Natural-Born Citizen?

This is the second comment in as many days I’ve seen on this point. John McCain was born abroad, on a United States military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Does that make him ineligible under the United States Constitution, Article I, section 1, clause 5 (the “Natural Born Citizen Clause”)? The clause states that:

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

I have not researched the question with a view to SCOTUS precedents, but I have always taken that clause to mean, “born a citizen,” as opposed to “naturalized.” It seems kind of incredible to suggest that the Founders would have excluded from the presidency a man born to American citizens on an American military installation, there on orders, as a foreigner or threat to the internal and sovereign governance of the United States. Of course, I also can’t see anyone with standing – whomever that might be – being so foolish as to challenge McCain’s eligibility, should he be elected, in the courts.


SCOTUS Upholds Solomon Amendment

The Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment, which bars colleges from accepting federal funds if they refuse to allow military recruiters on their campuses. The unanimous (8-0, since Alito had not been confirmed when the case was argued) opinion was the third written by Chief Justice John Roberts. Thirty-six law schools had challenged the law in the case, Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, 04-1152.

I will post a link to the opinion as soon as it is available online.

EDIT: The opinion is now available, here.

Justice Alito

Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, today. Judge Alito is currently on the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (PA, NJ, DE). From everything I know of him and his judicial history, I couldn’t be happier about his nomination.

Continue reading “Justice Alito”

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