Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Right To Bear Arms

For the first time in seventy years the United States Supreme Court has ruled upon the constitutionality of gun control. The crucial question in their deliberations was the intent of the founding fathers. Does the right to bear arms extend to all free citizens? Or is it confined to members of a legally sanctioned state militia? Opponents of the right to bear arms have adhered to the eviscerative approach to constitutional law, permitting gun ownership only to militia members. Today's ruling protects the right of Americans to defend themselves and their loved ones. It does not challenge the right of the government to prohibit gun ownership to criminals and the mentally ill. It was a landmark decision that touches the lives of millions of Americans.
It is fortuitous that this important ruling came in the midst of a presidential campaign. Even more telling is the narrowness of the plurality with which our Second Amendment was upheld. Todays decision was the product of a 5-4 majority. Our laws, as well as the manner in which they are enforced and interpreted should reflect the priorities and core beliefs of those who must obey them. A Supreme Court justice serves a life term. Many serve for decades. John Paul Stevens has been in office since 1975. The proudest moments of our nation's highest court have shaped the path of nations and popular thinking. Shameful landmark decisions such as the Dred Scott case, mandating the extradition of runaway slaves humble us a century and a half later.
Who will our next President appoint to the Supreme Court? There are two major schools of judicial thought. One is that courts need to legislate desirable social goals. The problem with this school of thought is the wide divergence in the general population of what constitutes a desirable social goal. The second judicial philosophy is that the intent of the founding fathers is paramount. The reason for a judge to be appointed for life is to prevent the pendulum of passing trends and fashions from distorting judicial wisdom. Elected judges play to an audience. Life appointees play to posterity.
We are privileged this November to shape our future for decades to come. As individuals, our major candidates fail to inspire. But this is not only an election of individuals, it is a choice of guiding ideology. To whom will our chief executive lend a sympathetic ear. Upon whom will he bestow the Presidential seal of respectability? As a contest of ideas, as a study in philosophical contrasts, this is an election of major importance. Whoever is chosen by the American people should be watched and questioned in office by a passionately concerned electorate. Our times demand no less. Sphere: Related Content

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