McDonald v. City of Chicago, IL

read the US Supreme Court decision here

Excerpted from wikipedia...

McDonald v. Chicago (2010) is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States on the issue of gun rights. The Court held that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applies to the states. The decision cleared up the uncertainty left in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller as to the scope of gun rights with regards to the states.

On June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit’s decision in NRA v. Chicago and remanded it back to Seventh Circuit to resolve conflicts between certain Chicago gun restrictions and the Second Amendment. The Court of Appeals had upheld a Chicago ordinance banning the possession of handguns as well as other gun regulations affecting rifles and shotguns, citing United States v. Cruikshank, Presser v. Illinois, and Miller v. Texas.

Lower Court Background
The trial court entered judgment in favor of the City of Chicago on December 18, 2008. The decision was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and combined with a similar case, NRA v. Chicago. Oral argument was May 26, 2009, and the court issued its opinion on June 28, 2009, affirming the trial court’s decision that the Chicago and Oak Park gun regulations pass constitutional muster.

The Second Amendment Foundation appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for certiorari on behalf of their plaintiffs. Certiorari for McDonald was granted on September 30, 2009. The NRA separately filed on behalf of their plaintiffs, and on January 25, 2010 the Supreme Court granted the NRA’s motion for divided argument. Oral argument took place on March 2, 2010. On June 28, 2010, the High Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Second Amendment was incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment, subjecting Chicago’s gun ordinances to the requirements of the Federal Second Amendment.

McDonald v. Chicago as compared to NRA v. Chicago
Despite being consolidated at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, the cases are different in scope in terms of the specific regulations challenged and the legal argument for applying the Second Amendment against state and local governments. The cases were appealed separately to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The NRA case is focused on the fact that Chicago’s gun registration laws do not allow the registration of handguns. It should be noted that in the District of Columbia v. Heller, “The Court also recognized a distinction between weapons ‘in common use at the time’ and weapons that were considered dangerous and unusual...”

McDonald challenges four broad aspects of Chicago’s gun registration law, which, according to the plaintiffs:

Legal basis for incorporation
All of the post-Heller cases, including McDonald, NRA v. Chicago, Nordyke and Maloney, have argued that the Second Amendment, in addition applying to federal jurisdictions, should also be applied against state and local governments, using a judicial process called selective incorporation. Selective incorporation involves convincing the court that a right is “fundamental” by being “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” or “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions” as defined most recently in the Supreme Court case Duncan v. Louisiana.

In addition to claiming the Second Amendment should be incorporated through the selective incorporation process, McDonald is unique among post-Heller gun cases in that it is asking the court to overturn the Slaughter-House Cases. Slaughter-House determined that the 14th Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause did not apply the Bill of Rights to the actions of states (and by extension, local governments). If overturned, the Selective Incorporation process may become unnecessary, since the entire Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, would arguably be applied against the states.

In attempting to overturn Slaughter-House, this case has garnered the attention and support of both conservative and liberal legal scholars interested in its potential application in areas outside of firearms law. Their interest is that if Slaughter-House is overturned, it is possible that constitutional guarantees such as the right to a jury in civil cases, right to a grand jury in felony cases, and other parts of the Bill of Rights, as well as future court rulings and existing federal precedent, not universally guaranteed in actions by the states, would be applied against the states automatically.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas alone supported overturning the Slaughter-House and Cruikshank decisions, proposing that “the right to keep and bear arms is a privilege of American citizenship that applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause.”

Amicus curiae briefs
Thirty-three amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs for this case have been filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

One of these briefs was filed by U.S. senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R, TX) and John Tester (D, MT) and U.S. representatives Mark Souder (R, IN) and Mike Ross (D, AR) asking the Supreme Court to find in favor of the petitioners and rule that the Second Amendment does apply to the states. The brief was signed by 58 senators and 251 representatives, more members of Congress than any amicus curiae brief in history.

Justice Alito, in writing for the majority, concluded “that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller.” Justice Thomas, writing a separate opinion, reached the incorporation issue on different grounds, using instead the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to reach the same result of incorporation. The opinion also re-affirmed that certain firearms restrictions mentioned in District of Columbia v. Heller, such as those “prohibit[ing]...the possession of firearms by felons or mentally ill,” as well as “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” are all permissible.