Constitutional rights–not ‘necessarily good ideas’?

I was planning to write a follow-up to  yesterday’s blog post about “Doctors for Defenselessness,” but this bit of commentary by Lino A. Graglia (a “Catholic conservative,” according to Wikipedia) demanded an immediate response. The very first sentence sets the unbelievable tone.

In striking down the District of Columbia’s gun control law, the U.S. Supreme Court raised the question whether constitutional rights are necessarily good ideas.

“Raised the question” among whom–people who think tyranny has gotten a bad rap?

Graglia then goes on to criticize the notion of examining the Second Amendment by exploring late 18th century attitudes about gun ownership–apparently, people have far less reason to fear a power-hungry government now than they did then–the people of Burma (or Myanmar, if you insist) will be pleased to hear that, I’m sure. Then, he goes into the obligatory plug for the (now officially discredited) “collective rights” interpretation of the Second Amendment.

It is arguable — as the 5-4 split on the Supreme Court indicates — that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to possess guns; “bear arms” has a military ring.

And how about “keep arms,” genius? I still can’t believe there was ever serious discussion about the possibility that 10% of the Bill of Rights was dedicated to protecting the government’s right to have an armed military. By the way, in my reading of the Heller decision, the “collective rights” interpretation lost 9-0. The four dissenting justices acknowledged the individual right–they just apparently think it’s a right that can permissibly be rendered meaningless.

If democracy is the norm, only policy choices clearly precluded by the Constitution should be struck down by the courts. The view of elected legislators should prevail in cases of doubt. The court might well, therefore, have refrained from taking the gun control issue out of the political process.

I don’t know what “the norm” is, but I do know that the United States was founded as a republic–not as a democracy, in which 51% of the population can vote away the fundamental rights of the other 49%. As to “clearly precluded by the Constitution,” what more would the Second Amendment have to say to make it clear to you that citizen disarmament is not an option? Should the original twenty-seven words of the amendment be followed up with another sentence–something along the lines of “We’re really serious here, guys; no f***ing infringing, damn it!”?

Graglia disparages constitutionalism on the grounds that it “takes policy options off the table.” That’s what it’s supposed to do, Einstein. Certain policy options have no business being brought to the table, and a government monopoly on force is definitely one of those.

Oh, by the way–Graglia is a law professor at University of Texas–just gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling about the future, doesn’t it?

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One Response to “Constitutional rights–not ‘necessarily good ideas’?”

  1. HTownTejas Says:

    You had me muttering “what an idiot” about Lino until the last bit, that he’s a college law professor. It can’t be ignorance then….. it’s something else….

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