Two judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals virtually "erased" 13 words in the amendment altogether. Just another reason why the decision was clearly erroneous and should be reversed.
|
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Contrary to gun lobby dogma, there are actually 27 words in the Second Amendment.

The Amendment reads, in full:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

There is the "Militia purpose" clause, with 13 words. Then there is the "keep and bear Arms" clause, with 14 words. Two clauses and 27 words. This is an uncomfortable fact to those accustomed to reading only half of the Amendment, reciting the last 14 words over and over again as if the first 13 didn't exist.

The Constitution says they do exist, and so we must read the whole Second Amendment. We must give effect to all of its words - not just the ones we like - to understand what the Amendment means.

In the case [pdf] now on appeal to the US Supreme Court, however, two judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals virtually "erased" the 13 words of the "Militia purpose" clause altogether, and made them practically meaningless. This is just one more reason why the Appeals Court decision was clearly erroneous and should be reversed.

You can read why in the second installment of the Brady Center Legal Action Project's thorough critique of the lower-court opinion titled, Decision By Eraser: How the Parker Court Obliterated Half of the Second Amendment.

What follows in an excerpt, with a link to the full text at the end:

In this second installment, we explain how the Parker panel ... botched its textual and historical analysis of the Second Amendment. At every turn of its decision, the Parker panel treated the first thirteen words of the Amendment - containing its militia purpose - as irrelevant surplus, with absolutely no binding effect. In its place, the court assumed that the Second Amendment protects ownership and use of firearms for "private purposes," even though this is found nowhere in its text or legislative history. We have entitled this piece Decision by Eraser because Parker treats the Constitution as if courts are empowered to selectively erase its words and replace them with unexpressed meanings that support the court's predilections.

Of course, as Chief Justice John Marshall established back in 1803 in the seminal case of Marbury v. Madison, the Parker panel's approach is contrary to how courts must interpret the language of our Constitution.

It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such a construction is inadmissible.

The Parker ruling defied that 200-year-old instruction....

The Parker court approached [the Second Amendment] text by "slicing and dicing it." Instead of looking at the Amendment as a whole to ascertain a meaning that accounts for all of its words in context, the court repeatedly divided the language into subparts and divined a meaning for each subpart taken in isolation. ... Only through this artificial methodology could the Parker court avoid the obvious meaning that ties each part of the Amendment together into a unified whole: that the people have the right to keep and bear arms as part of a well regulated militia.

Read the whole installment here [pdf].

(Note to readers: This entry, along with past entries, has been co-posted on bradycampaign.org/blog and the Huffington Post.)

Popular in the Community