The Non Sequiturs Continue

I have been waiting and wating for this one.

When I wrote my diary, The Constitutional Non Sequitur, I purposely left one out.  That was because the US Court of Appeals in Chicago was hearing arguments on that non sequitur.  Immediately following the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller case, in which the Second Amendment was recognized as a right retained by individuals, the NRA sued the City of Chicago.  This case challenged the 1982 Chicago ban on handguns and automatic weapons.

A few days ago, the Seventh Circuit Court issued its declaration:  Per the current ruling in National Rifle Association of America v. City of Chicago, the Second Amendment applies only to the Federal government, not the various states.

The argument upheld by the Court is that the Second Amendment is found in the Constitution of the Federal Government, and so only applies to laws enacted by Congress.  Laws enacted by state and local governments are not bound by its restrictions. The decision of the Court Panel was unanimous.  The three judge panel of US Circuit Court Judges Frank Easterbrook, Richard Posner and William Bauer found that the individual right to keep and bear arms can be restricted by the states.  Says Easterbrook,

Heller dealt with a law enacted under the authority of the national government, while Chicago and Oak Park are subordinate bodies of a state.”

No offense, Judge, but horse manure.  Heller established the Second Amendment as an individual right.  It merely dealt narrowly with a law enacted by a national authority.

This is the non sequitur:

  • In Arkansas v. Sanders, the Supreme Court held the State up to the Fourth Amendment.
  • Berger v. New York invalidated a New York State wiretapping law under the Fourth Amendment.
  • Mapp v. Ohio applied the Fourth Amendment to state courts.
  • Miranda v. Arizona enforced the Fifth Amendment at the state level.
  • Lovell v. City of Griffin applied the First Amendment to a municipality.
  • Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District went further an applied the First Amendment to not just the subordinate body of a state, but as a school district, the subordinate body of a subordinate body.

It took me less than twenty minutes to find these cases.  There are many more examples of the Supreme Court holding the various states accountable one Constitutional Amendment or another.  In the case of the Second Amendment, the Seventh Circuit Court ignores all these other rulings and applies new limitations to the Second Amendment; limitations that currently bind no other Amendment.

Under the logic of the Seventh Circuit Court, the States of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin (those covered by that circuit) are not bound by the Bill of Rights.  After all, if a limitation on government in one amendment does not apply to the various states and their subordinate municipalities, then neither should any of the others.

Just one problem:  The Supreme Court of the United States (by whose rulings the Seventh Circuit is bound) has already ruled on cases involving those amendments, and it seems rather unanimous in applying the individual rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights to the states and the municipalities within.

If the Seventh Court is right, and individual protections from the Bill of Rights do not apply to states, then the Supreme Court was wrong when it ruled on Miranda, Tinker and Mapp.  If the Supreme Court was right about Tinker, Mapp and Miranda that individual rights recognized in the Bill of Rights apply to the states, then the Seventh Court is wrong in its application of NRA v. Chicago.

Hopefully, the nine justices of the High Court will follow its own precedent regarding other cases of individual rights and apply Heller and the Second Amendment to the States, just as it did with Miranda, Tinker and others.  Otherwise, the non sequiturs just continue.

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