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February 28, 2009

NY Times editorial notes Second Amendment silence in Hayes

While praising the Supreme Court's work in Hayes week, this New York Times editorial highlights the fact that the Second Amendment dog did not bark at all in the first SCOTUS gun control ruling since Heller:

The Supreme Court brushed past flimsy arguments by the gun lobby this week to uphold an important restriction on gun ownership that protects public safety.

The 7-to-2 decision upheld a broad reading of a 1996 federal law written by Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, that bars people convicted of crimes involving domestic violence from owning guns.  A narrow interpretation of the law, excluding domestic abusers convicted of a generic charge of battery, would have rearmed thousands of dangerous people.

The ruling was the court’s first on guns since last year’s landmark decision striking down the District of Columbia’s ban on possessing handguns in the home.  It was an encouraging sign that the court sees no blanket constitutional barrier to common-sense regulation of firearms. It is notable that not even the two dissenters in the case — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia — asserted that depriving domestic abusers of guns raises a Second Amendment issue.

It is worth noticing that this Times editorial goes out of it way to avoid mentioning that the persons being convicted under the law at issue in Hayes were guilty of only committing a misdemeanor.  Perhaps there were thousands of dangerous misdemeanants that were just waiting to go on shooting sprees if Hayes came out differently, but this kind of talk about dangerousness reminds me of some of the rhetoric often used by the "tough-on-crime" types eager to resist efforts to reduce extreme sentence.

Other recent posts on the Hayes decision:

February 28, 2009 at 07:47 AM | Permalink


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Doug -- You and I both know that the Sentencing Commission can't change the minimum sentence provided by Congress for this crime. Do you think the judge's order here is defensible? It's clearly disregarding the clear law for personal reasons.

Posted by: informed | Feb 28, 2009 9:08:14 AM

I assume, "informed," that you meant to place this comment in the Lett thread. And, "informed," if you were in fact "informed" about the case you would know that the "minimum sentence provided by Congress for this crime" was ZERO because of the application of the statutory safety valve of 3553(f). Judge Steele was consistently committed to following the "law," which is one reason --- ironically --- that justice for Patrick Lett took so long to achieve. So, in the future, "informed," try to live up to your anonymous name before misguidedly accusing a virtuous federal judge of "clearly disregarding the clear law for personal reasons."

Posted by: Doug B. | Feb 28, 2009 1:15:14 PM

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