Justice Scalia is out promoting his new book and making some interesting statements along the way. He was on Fox News on Sunday morning and one of the things he said debunks some of the idiotic talk we’ve heard from Republicans about how Obama supposedly intimidated the court into upholding the health insurance mandate:
Scalia brushed off Obama’s comments aimed at the court regarding the healthcare law and a campaign finance ruling.
“What can he do to me? Or to any of us?” Scalia said. “We have life tenure and we have it precisely so that we will not be influenced by politics, by threats from anybody.”
Which was obvious from the start. He also talked about gun control:
In light of the July 20 massacre in which a gunman killed 12 moviegoers in Colorado, Scalia was asked whether legislatures could ban the sale of semiautomatic weapons.
He said the 2008 ruling stated that future cases will determine “what limitations upon the right to bear arms are permissible. Some undoubtedly are.”
Scalia – a proponent of the idea that the Constitution must be interpreted using the meaning of its text at the time it was written – cited “a tort called affrighting” that existed when the Second Amendment was drafted in the 18th century making it a misdemeanor to carry “a really horrible weapon just to scare people like a head ax.”
“So yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed,” he said. “I mean, obviously, the amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried. It’s to ‘keep and bear’ (arms). So, it doesn’t apply to cannons. But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to be … decided.”
He’s actually right about that. The 2008 ruling does leave such questions open. That ruling said that there is an individual right to own guns, but that this right is not unlimited. I think it’s pretty obvious that even with the current conservative-leaning court, most gun control laws — waiting periods, background checks, etc — will be upheld as constitutional. And I doubt anyone would even bring a suit claiming a right to own a rocket launcher, but they would lose very quickly in court.