Sunday, June 29, 2008

Scalia cited ancient British right

A friend emailed:

There’s an interesting dimension to the 2nd Amendment arguments that unfortunately I can’t find the link to. Briefly, the thread goes that an individual’s right to bear arms (hunting and self-defense I’d guess) predates the Constitution, and that the Founding Fathers were very particular about protecting what they called inalienable rights (like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) from infringement by government.

I think that is what this OP-FOR blogger is getting at here.
In his latest column George Will notes Justice Scalia cited what my friend most likely had in mind when he referred to "an individual's right to bear arms [that] predates the Constitution[.]
...In an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, who believes that construing the Constitution should begin, and often end, with analysis of what the text meant to its authors, the court affirmed the individual right. Scalia cited the ancient British right -- deemed a pre-existing, inherent, natural right, not one created by government -- of individuals to own arms as protection against tyrannical government and life's other hazards. Scalia also cited American state constitutional protections of the right to arms, protections written contemporaneously with the drafting of the Second Amendment. (emphasis added)...
Will's entire column's here.

Comments, anyone?


Anonymous said...

The founding fathers were strongly influenced by English common law which recognized the right of free men to keep and bear arms. Of course, since that time, the Brits have rescinded that law with the result that gun crimes have skyrocketted in England.
It is instructive to hear our Leftwing knee-jerk gun haters run off at the mouth about how we should be more like our foreign neighbors and deep-six the nasty old second amendment. I need hardly remind these folks that the very basis of our country was established by people who had a belly full of the way our European cousins conducted their affairs. I suppose the Brady Campaign folks would love to live in France where suspects are presumed guilty and are forced at trial to prove their innocence. Or England where there is no right of habeas corpus. Or Japan where the police may enter your home any time they damned well feel like it. We are unique as a nation and one of the greatest aspects of our uniqueness is that Americans have an individual right to keep and bear arms. But politicians like Mr. Obama prefer an unarmed peasantry don't you know. If the gun-haters would prefer to live under other circumstances, let them bloody well pack their little valises and go where gun ownership is forbidden and where gun crimes are rising. Incidently, thanks to Archer 05 for the kind words.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

John -

One of the reasons that the Federalists thought the Amendments unnecessary was that they viewed the Constitution as limiting the Federal Government as to what it could do, and everything else would be off limits. Thereby the Federal Government could not infringe on the rights of the states or the individuals in the republic. Fortunately, the Anti-Federalists were not so trusting and demanded further explicit limitations. Little did they dream in their worst nightmares about what would happen. It seems the view today is that the Federal government is unlimited in its powers and only the Constitution and the Amendments cans stop it from exercising those powers, except when the Justices see penumbra.

And ditto to TH.

Jack in Silver Spring