Happy now, Dick?

Back when Michael Mukasey was confirmed as Attorney General, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) was less than enthusiastic, at least partially because of Mukasey’s stated position that the Second Amendment protects an individual right.

Take another unsettled legal question: whether the Second Amendment secures an individual right to bear arms. Here is what Judge Mukasey told me: “Based on my own study, I believe that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.”

In other words, Judge Mukasey agrees with the Bush Administration when it comes to retroactive immunity and the Second Amendment.

Well, take heart, Senator, because one of Mukasey’s top minions has taken the position that yes–the Second Amendment does protect an individual right, and yes–Washington D.C.’s handgun ban may well be unconstitutional, but . . . the Supreme Court still shouldn’t overturn it (a right “of the people” is apparently really a right of the people, but “shall not be infringed” surely can’t really mean “shall not be infringed”). Heaven forbid that people start thinking that the Supreme Court’s job is overturning unconstitutional laws, or something.

Then again, perhaps Durbin looks at the issue the same way this Bush apologist does, and believes that this brief isn’t a direct attack on gun rights. (h/t WoG)

If that’s true, though, it’s odd that the D.C. legal team seems to be happy about the brief:

Peter Nickles, the District’s acting attorney general, called the brief a “somewhat surprising and very favorable development.”

Washington lawyer Walter Dellinger, who has been retained to argue the city’s case before the court, added: “While there is a great deal in the solicitor general’s opinion with which we disagree, I am gratified they recognize the Court of Appeals erred in striking down the District’s law without considering whether it was reasonable to ban a type of weapon — handguns — which can be concealed and carried into schools, office buildings and subways.”

The pro-rights legal team would seem to think Dellinger has reason to be happy.

Even though Clement’s brief said it is not filed in support of either side, it “is basically siding with the District of Columbia,” said Alan Gura, an attorney for the District residents challenging the law. “The idea that the court somehow got this wrong is absurd.”

(h/t Liberty Zone)

The Brady Bunch’s Paul Helmke is also pleased about the brief.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Handgun Violence, told the Times he saluted the administration for recognizing a need for limits on gun rights. Alan Gura, a key gun-rights advocate leading the challenge to the District of Columbia’s gun law, said he was disappointed over the administration’s position, adding that he was troubled that Clement advised the justices to send the case back for further hearings in a lower court.

“We are not happy. We are very disappointed the administration is hostile to individual rights. This is definitely hostile to our position,” Gura said.

On the balance, Dick, I’d say that your anti-rights side has done better so far out of the Mukasey Attorney Generalship than we have.

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