Tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument in District of Columbia v. Heller. The case promises to be the first case finding an individual right to bear arms in the Second Amendment. I've been telling my Civil Rights class all semester that when they started the semester there was no recognized individual right in the Second Amendment and by the end of the semester in all likelihood there will be. It's not often we get to witness a new right being born. It's kind of like the end of 2010 when the planet Jupiter turns into a mini star.
The actual decision probably won't be rendered until near the end of the term. Nonetheless, the oral argument will offer the next step in the process. The proliferation of monoliths, if you will. What follows is a guide to the issues, plus a partial glossary to the many, many documents available.
I always tell my class to start with the text we are interpreting. So here it is:
- A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The Court has promised to release oral argument pretty much immediately. C-SPAN will be airing it around 11:00 and Oyez should have audio on demand around the same time. SCOTUS blog promises to liveblog the argument and currently has two preview posts up by a couple of Harvard Law profs.
Several battalions of amicus (friend of the court) briefs have been deployed by both sides. WaPo has a set of excerpts running today.
For pro-gun types, there's no better resource than libertarian law prof. Eugene Volokh. More or less on the other side (but not nearly so obsessed) is Yale prof Jack Balkin's blog. The estimable Dahlia Lithwick has a nice piece up arguing that the case is a "natural experiment in judicial restraint (more on that anon.)