We found the argument “that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment” not merely wrong, but “bordering on the frivolous.” 554 U. S., at 582.  Instead, we held that “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.” Ibid. (emphasis added).3  It is hard to imagine language speaking more directly to the point. Yet the Supreme Judicial Court did not so much as mention it

A State’s most basic responsibility is to keep its people safe. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was either unable or unwilling to do what was necessary to protect Jaime Caetano, so she was forced to protect herself.  To make matters worse, the Commonwealth chose to deploy its prosecutorial resources to prosecute and convict her of a criminal offense for arming herself with a nonlethal weapon that may well have saved her life. The Supreme Judicial Court then affirmed her conviction on the flimsiest of grounds.  This Court’s grudging per curiam now sends the case back to that same court.  And the consequences for Caetano may prove more tragic still, as her conviction likely bars her from ever bearing arms for selfdefense. … If the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano, then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming the people than about keeping them safe.

March 21, 2016
[This is a really big ruling for gun rights. It is close in importance as the McDonald and Heller decisions. The decision was unanimous. This helps put those anti-gun nuts who think they are one supreme court justice away from overturning the Heller decision in their place. It slaps down the state supreme court in terms that leave zero doubt as to SCOTUS displeasure. I just hammers the argument that “only muskets are protected”.

This is another nail in the coffin of gun control.—Joe]


8 thoughts on “Quote of the day—SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

  1. No dissents filed. That’s interesting. Only one concurring opinion, who simply wanted to make a point that the decision didn’t go far enough.

  2. Alito said the unanimous decision was given “grudgingly”. I’m willing to bet the original vote was 4-4, which would have let the ruling stand.

    At that point, I think Alito and Thomas went through the case point by point, and lined up the Mass court’s statement with the actual wording in the controlling Heller, etc, decisions. They probably pointed out that what is it issue here for the Supreme Court was not the 2nd Amendment, but the absolutely perverse and outright defiant arguments made by the Mass court with regard to the Supreme Court’s own rulings. It was like the Mass court took Heller and re-arranged the words in it into a legal anagram that met with their own preconceptions.

    At this point, the effect of allowing the ruling to stand would be to give a green light to courts all over the country that ignoring the Supreme Court was acceptable. In which case, the Supreme Court would be flooded with cases where lower courts reference Supreme Court decisions, interpret the words to mean whatever the hell they feel like, and just hope that the case stands because there are just too many defiant cases to be granted cert.

    And in that case, perhaps Roe vs Wade is ripe for some fresh perspective. Perhaps the ACA decisions? There’s a whole bunch of legal precedents that basically created law out of nothing but emanations and penumbras that could be defied endlessly if the Supreme Court allowed this case to stand.

    So, basically, rather than dealing with the 2nd Amendment issue themselves, they issued a ruling that said, “Our decisions mean what they say, you’re assholes for deliberately misreading them, now go back and do it right.”

    • I think you hit it. Alito’s concurrence was more definitive with respect to 2A, but I think it’s telling that the USSC didn’t just strike down the law, but remanded it to the lower court for reconsideration. No new precedent set.

    • I agree 100%. This was more about smacking a lower court into line than anything else. They possibly could have gotten away with it if they even given minimum effort to generating some cockamamie legal theory instead of just ignoring Heller.

  3. The wording of it is shockingly concise and principled. Whatever comes of this, the ideas put forth in those two paragraphs are precious.

  4. Although I agree with what’s said above, here’s how I see it going (and forgive me for having a dim view of Massachusetts’ jurisprudence when it comes to the Bill of Rights):
    – Ms. Caetano is still screwed. They’ll uphold her conviction, but they’ll be more creative about doing it.
    – The SCOTUS opinion basically slaps the State court and says, “Do it again, but do it right this time.” Notably, SCOTUS did not strike down the State’s prohibition of “electrical weapons”. That omission is kind of a big deal.
    – The State prosecutors and courts will take another look at the evidence and think to themselves, “Hmmm… We can’t get her for possession of a stun gun, because that’s protected by that damnable Second Amendment. But wait, what’s this? She was arrested for having it in her car! That’s certainly outside the home! And she didn’t have a license to carry a weapon! Oh, snap! There’s our new case!”

    The new logic will go like this: Stun guns are protected “arms”, per SCOTUS. MA residents must have a license to carry “arms” outside their homes. Ms. Caetano possessed the stun gun in her car, which is outside her home, and she did not have that license. Therefore, she’s still guilty, but of “unlawfully carrying a weapon” or “unlawful use of a weapon” (for “brandishing” it at her violent ex-boyfriend when he physically threatened her) instead of “possession of an electrical weapon” — “lesser of two evils” be damned.

    Somehow, I doubt that SCOTUS will object to that re-conviction.

    • That IS the most conservative decision the SCOTUS could have made short of lack of standing or procedural error. But could she have gotten the license for the taser before this decision or would it have been denied a la Heller?

  5. Oh, what a difference Scalia still being on the court could have made!

    On the other hand, it could have been much worse. I hope Archer isn’t correct, but…

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