Initial Report on Heller Argument:
Over at Scotusblog, Tom Goldstein has this very preliminary take on the just-completed Heller argument:
Based just on the questioning, which can prove inaccurate, the Court is divided along ideological lines in Heller, with Justice Kennedy taking a strong view that the "operative clause" of the Second Amendment protects an individual right unconnected with militia service that guarantees the right to hunt and engage in self-defense. If the oral argument line up were to hold when the Court votes, the Court will recognize an individual right to bear arms that will not be seriously constrained by military service of any kind. There was a seemingly broad consensus that the right would not extend to machine guns, plastic guns that could evade metal detectors, and the like. There was relatively little disccusion of the trigger lock provision. Justice Breyer seemingly sought to pick up a fifth vote for a narrower reading of the Second Amendment by attempting to tie the question of the reasonableness of the regulation to whether the challenged statute left individuals with the ability to possess weapons that could be used in milita service. But at argument, at least, none of the Court's more conservative members expressed much interest in that approach, and Justice Kennedy's view that the operative clause is not directed at militia service would seem not to point in that direction.More at Scotusblog, naturally, including Lyle Denniston's initial take posted just five minutes ago:
The Supreme Court’s historic argument Tuesday on the meaning of the Constitution’s Second Amendment sent out one quite clear signal: individuals may well wind up with a genuine right to have a gun for self-defense in their home. But what was not similarly clear was what kind of gun that would entail, and thus what kind of limitations government cut put on access or use of a weapon. In an argument that ran 23 minutes beyond the allotted time, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy emerged as a strong defender of the right of domestic self-defense. At one key point, he suggested that the one Supreme Court precedent that at least hints that gun rights are tied to military not private needs — the 1939 decision in U.S. v. Miller — “may be deficient” in that respect.Perhaps Heller will be another Lawrence, with Miller today's Bowers? Stay tuned.