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Court's gun decision will set a precedent

By The Associated Press Modified: March 18, 2008 at 5:48 am •  Published: March 18, 2008
His lawyers say the amendment plainly protects an individual's right.

The 27 words and three enigmatic commas of the Second Amendment have been analyzed again and again by legal scholars, but hardly at all by the Supreme Court.

The last Supreme Court ruling on the topic came in 1939 in U.S. v. Miller, which involved a sawed-off shotgun. Constitutional scholars disagree over what that case means but agree it did not squarely answer the question of individual versus collective rights.

Heller lost his suit in U.S. District Court in Washington. By a 2-1 vote, a panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down the handgun ban. Notably, it was the first appeals court to strike down a gun control law on the basis of an individual's Second Amendment rights.

What's the effect?
Barnett is among those on both sides of the issue who believe the practical effect of the court's ruling will be limited.

Forty-four state constitutions contain some form of gun rights, which are not affected by the court's consideration of Washington's restrictions.

"There is almost no other enacted gun law that would be threatened by this case,” Barnett said.

The case is Heller v. District of Columbia, 07-290.

Broadcasting obscenities
The Supreme Court will again be weighing political punishment for dirty words, this time involving undeleted expletives. On Monday, in a nod to the Bush administration, the high court agreed to consider whether broadcasters can be disciplined for airing "fleeting” obscenities. The First Amendment conflict becomes the latest case pitting free speech rights against government efforts to protect innocent ears. Broadcasters say they should not face discipline for obscenities uttered in passing. The Bush administration supports a Federal Communications Commission rule imposed after Bono and Cher swore briefly in separate appearances.

From Wire Services


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