The Second Amendment as Teaching Tool in Constitutional Law Classes:

The Supreme Court is about to fill in (whether rightly or wrongly) one of the last blank spots on the constitutional map. This means law professors are about to lose one of the few areas where they can get their students to discuss an exciting constitutional rights issue by talking about text, structure, history, and more, with a minimum of distraction from What The Justices Have Told Us. Most Constitutional Law courses are overwhelmingly (and understandably, though not always entirely fortunately) about the Supreme Court Reports, not about the Constitution as a document. Until now, the Second Amendment has offered a great opportunity for a different approach.

In light of this, I thought I'd link to "The Second Amendment as Teaching Tool in Constitutional Law Classes," an article that I put together in 1998 -- it's a joint piece, with sections from Bob Cottrol, Sandy Levinson, Scot Powe, pre-InstaPundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds, and me. I hope it will be of interest even to non-conlawprofs, but I especially hope that some constitutional law professors take our advice in this coming semester.

JosephSlater (mail):
I tell ya, the Third Amendment gets no respect.
11.21.2007 11:47am
Tony Tutins (mail):
Chemerinsky will have to rewrite the beginning of his casebook, which currently scoffs at the notion of the Second Amendment acknowledging an individual right.
11.21.2007 12:24pm
Cornellian (mail):
Might law schools start to consider, gasp!, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments?
11.21.2007 12:25pm
Cory J (mail):

There's still a group out there that cares.
11.21.2007 1:00pm
CheckEnclosed (mail):
Don't Despair Eugene. The ability and resourcefulness employed by any judge to avoid deciding issues is limitless, and the Supremes are even better at it.
11.21.2007 1:04pm

Might law schools start to consider, gasp!, the Ninth and Tenth Amendments?

Steady, man!
11.21.2007 2:08pm
Cory J,

I was hoping someone would link to that.
11.21.2007 3:22pm
Spartacus (www):
Supreme Court precedent that the 2d establishes an individual right still leaves precious little in U.S. Reports on the meaining of "infringe," and now the fun just begins: what sort of weapons are constitutionally protected for individual ownership? Almost certainly all militia weapons, but what about the rest? Is Miller really controller on that question? What about non-firearms, like brass knuckles and switchblades, that are often pohibited outright (except as "curios") by state law? RPGs? etc.
11.21.2007 3:58pm
RKV (mail):
Spartacus old son, when I get my MP5SD, I won't be worrying about switchblades. Though I would note, on a serious basis, that if the military or police use an arm, then an individual right to arms needs to make them available for ordinary citizens, or we're right back where we started from. Policemen use saps and batons, which are currently prohibited from general sale here in the People's Republik.
11.21.2007 5:09pm
"Policemen use saps"

really? since when?

maybe they do, but as an officer myself - i have never heard of any agency that uses saps (although SDPD uses nunchuks which is pretty cool) in this day and age.

not saying you are wrong,. but do you know of any agency that uses saps?

i've never heard of it, apart from old raymond chandler and joseph wambaugh books.
11.21.2007 8:50pm
Ian Argent (www):
I'd have to say that the difference between a sap and a baton is largely a matter of opinion. They're both instruments for applying blunt-force trauma.
11.21.2007 9:08pm
well, no it's a matter of definition.

for pete's sake, if some agencies still use saps, i'd love to know. that would mean i learned something (since i assumed they were no longer used because i've never seen one used in any PD in the last 10 years). but instead, i get the classic internet wordplay from you.

saps (and sap gloves) are quite different from batons. yes, they are both blunt force instruments.

in the same way that chairs and tables are both furniture.

however, the difference is not "opinion".
fwiw, a sap was a term that describes a weapon with a metal core (usually lead or some dense metal) with leather or similar material surrounding it. that is a classic sap.

sap gloves, are gloves with lead (or similar dense material) stitched into it for added "punch" so to speak.

they are not the same thing.

if i carried or hit somebody with a sap, i would be disciplined and maybe even prosecuted, depending on the circ's.

not so with a baton.


welcome to the internet ...
11.22.2007 12:11am
Ian Argent (www):
I've seen what I would normally call a "baton" described as a "sap".

FWIW, what I normally think of as a sap tracks with your definition (metal-cored leather container). OTOH, I've seen those called everything from shotbag to life-preserver at one point or another.

Likewise I've seen flexible metal batons (no leather bag or cover) described as "saps".
11.25.2007 3:40pm