Thursday, November 7, 2013

District of Columbia v. Heller case brief

District of Columbia v. Heller case brief summary
128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008)

Petitioner District of Columbia sought certiorari review of a judgment from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which held that the Second Amendment protected an individual's right to possess firearms and that the total ban on handguns under D.C. Code §§ 7-2501.01(12), 7-2502.01(a), 7-2502.02(a)(4), as well as the requirement under D.C. Code § 7-2507.02 that firearms be kept nonfunctional, violated that right.

Respondent, a special policeman, filed the instant action after the District refused his application to register a handgun.

  • The Court held that the District's ban on handgun possession in the home and its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purposes of immediate self-defense violated the Second Amendment. 
  • The Court held that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. 
  • The Court determined that the Second Amendment's prefatory clause announced a purpose but did not limit or expand the scope of the operative clause.
  •  The operative clause's text and history demonstrated that it connoted an individual right to keep and bear arms, and the Court's reading of the operative clause was consistent with the announced purpose of the prefatory clause. 
  • None of the Court's precedents foreclosed its conclusions. The Court held that the Second Amendment right was not unlimited, and it noted that its opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on certain long-standing prohibitions related to firearms.
The Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals. Assuming respondent was not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the Court held that the District must permit respondent to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in his home. 5-4 Decision; 2 Dissents.

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