Today’s Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutional right of Chicago residents to possess firearms for personal protection is “an important moment in constitutional history,” said Timothy Sandefur, principal attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, who authored the Foundation’s friend of the court brief in McDonald v. Chicago. “While some parts of the decision are disappointing, the bottom line is that the State of Illinois may not legally disarm law-abiding citizens. They have a constitutional right to defend themselves from criminals who never have obeyed anti-gun laws themselves.”
The 5-4 decision held that the constitutional right to possess firearms for personal protection— which was the subject of the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller last year—applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment’s “due process of law” clause. PLF’s brief urged the Court to use a different provision of the Amendment called the “privileges or immunities” clause, a provision of the Constitution that has been virtually ignored since an 1873 case called the Slaughterhouse Cases.
“It’s very unfortunate that the justices still ignore the crucial privileges or immunities clause,” said Sandefur. “Almost 150 years ago, the Fourteenth Amendment’s authors intended that to be the central part of the Amendment and, instead, the Supreme Court has refused to enforce it. This is sad, because that provision would offer Americans much stronger protection against unjust state laws.”
It's sort of eye-opening, really, that five individuals could have effectively nullified one of the original 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights -- and that those who would like to do just that came only one vote short.