BELLEVUE, WA – The Justice Department’s enlightened interpretation of the Second Amendment as an individual right was hailed today by the firearms civil rights organization that has supported a key Texas case that led to a federal appeals court ruling upholding the individual rights concept.
“Solicitor General Ted Olson took the correct position by advising the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to possess their private firearms, regardless whether they are in a militia,” said Dave LaCourse, public affairs director for the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).
SAF has been the driving force in the case of U.S. v. Emerson, which challenges the constitutionality of a federal law that prohibits gun ownership by citizens under civil divorce court restraining orders, even if they have not been convicted of a crime. A Texas district court judge ruled the law violated the Second Amendment rights of Dr. Timothy Joe Emerson (who has since been acquitted of all charges in state court). The Clinton/Reno Justice Department appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans, which last year reversed and remanded Emerson’s case back to the Texas court, while at the same time affirming District Judge Sam Cummings’ ruling that the Second Amendment is an individual right.
Anti-gun groups have blasted the Emerson Decision, and the Justice Department’s reversal of its long-standing position that the Second Amendment only protects a collective right of states to organize militias. They insist that several federal court decisions support their position.
“Federal courts, and even the Supreme Court, have been wrong on issues before,” LaCourse noted. “If we were to blindly accept what anti-gunners argue, then we would still be bound by the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in the 1850s that held slavery was legal.
“Today’s constitutional scholars, including Prof. Laurence Tribe, confirm that the Second Amendment is an individual right,” LaCourse continued. “For years, our own Justice Department has been deaf and blind to such scholarship, and the Fifth Circuit ruling forced the government to face the facts. Solicitor General Olson and Attorney General John Ashcroft deserve credit for their courageous reversal of four decades of constitutional denial.”