Legal Commentator of Blum’s Law, Bill Blum, discusses the approaches U.S. Supreme Court Justices have toward the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and what the founding fathers were thinking when they wrote it.
Blum said the decision in District of Columbia v. Heller held that the right to bear arms applied in connection with service and state militias.
“It’s important that we understand what state militias were during the founding era. State militias are what saved the federal government in the Whiskey Rebellion. So, they were very important and states were concerned about a large-standing federal army disarming the militia—that’s the purpose of the Second Amendment, was to keep those militias intact,” Blum said.
Because the weapons that exist today did not exist back when the Constitution was ratified, many legal experts and activists alike question whether or not the Second Amendment should be changed to reflect modern times.
Blum said that we cannot know what the founding fathers would have done and we will never know, adding that it’s a “game.”
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“It just doesn't make any sense, in the end, to say, as Scalia concluded in the Heller decision, that the founding fathers, that the original public meaning of the Second Amendment supported and led to only one conclusion, that there was an individual right to bear arms for civilian purposes,” Blum said.
Blum also noted that the interpretation of the Constitution heavily relies on the views of the Justices. While some Justices opt to interpret the document as it was written, others have adopted more modern views. With both perspectives, there are key details the Justices review to make their decisions—such as precedent and constitutional rights.
There are certain writings in the Constitution, Blum says, that remain undisputed, such as the minimum age of the President or the maximum Senators for each state. However, there are large amounts of the Constitution—including the Second Amendment—that remained debated.
“What do we mean by freedom of the press? What do we mean by freedom of speech? Do we mean that corporations can spend unlimited money on political campaigns as being held in Citizens United?” Blum said. “Or does that depart from the basic ideas that the founders had regarding corporations? Or, if you want to go back to gun control, did the founders envision long rifles, automatic weapons that border on machine guns? Of course they didn't.”
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