"Instead, it protects the possession and use of guns only in service of an organized militia.”
Representing the Bush administration, the U.S. Justice Department recently told the court that it should send the case back to the lower court. The Justice Department agreed with the appellate court's decision to strike down the handgun ban but said the ruling was so broad it would allow private ownership of all types of weapons, including machine guns.
In an unusual move, Cheney broke with the administration's position and signed on to the brief filed by senators and House members; under the U.S. Constitution, Cheney is president of the U.S. Senate, and he was listed on the brief as such.
The brief filed by the lawmakers says Congress has repeatedly passed laws to protect private gun ownership, and it says the framers of the Constitution clearly did not intend to restrict gun ownership to militia members.
"In sum, the Second Amendment guarantees ‘the right of the people,' which includes residents of the seat of government, to keep and bear arms,” the brief states.
"This in turn promotes a well-regulated militia, seen as necessary for a free state's security.”
Numerous "friend-of-the-court” briefs, such as the ones by the states and the federal lawmakers, have been filed on both sides in the case.
•The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 18.
•A decision is expected sometime before the court's session ends this summer.