Chicago Handgun Ban: Supreme Court To Hear Arguments In McDonald v. Chicago Today

Chicago Handgun Ban: Supreme Court To Hear Arguments In McDonald v. Chicago Today

**HuffPost Chicago has a reporter covering this case in Washington. Check back for updates as arguments begin.**

Chicago's longstanding ban on handguns within city limits will go before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, in a case that will have serious legal ramifications nationwide.

Handguns have been outlawed in Chicago for 28 years. But in 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court reversed a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., emboldening gun-rights activists to challenge the Chicago law. Suburban Oak Park, which has even stronger gun legislation, is also involved in the lawsuit.

But the Chicago case is different from Heller for one reason, which makes the case so important: Washington is ruled by the federal government, where Chicago's law is a local one.

The Second Amendment, which establishes the right to bear arms, is a part of the Bill of Rights, a group of amendments passed shortly after the Constitution's ratification to limit the powers of the federal government. In 1833, in a case called Barron v. Baltimore, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights does not apply to state or local laws.

Starting around the turn of the 20th century, though, the Court began a series of rulings collectively known as "selective incorporation." Using the language of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Court has ruled that selected provisions from the Bill of Rights do in fact apply to the states. These provisions include all First Amendment rights, as well as Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights and the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Notably absent from that list is the Second Amendment. To date, the Second Amendment's protection of the right to bear arms has not been "incorporated," meaning that it still does not apply to state and local laws.

This case will challenge that fact.

And analysis from SCOTUSblog suggests that the justices are likely to rule in favor of incorporation. Lyle Denniston writes:

Starting with the fact that the Heller majority found a personal right to have a gun to be a right that existed even before the Constitution was written, it is difficult to imagine that a majority will do anything other than require state and local governments, too, to respect that right.

However, he notes, many conservatives -- including some on the Court -- are concerned with the increasingly expansive interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, particularly its "due process" clause, a fact which may give them pause in this case.

While arguments are to begin Tuesday, Denniston writes that given the divisive nature of the case, a ruling probably won't come down for many months.

Meanwhile, the lead plaintiff in the case--South Side liberal Democrat Otis McDonald--spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times and said he wanted to overturn the ban because he is "living on a block where the bad guys with guns have him outnumbered and overpowered."

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