The test of a nation comes when its established principles are challenged and survive.
Today the United States Supreme Court accepted the Heller (formerly Parker) case, which is a pure test of the intent and original meaning of the constitution’s Second Amendment. This provision, poorly authored as it may have been, preserves the right of the average citizen to own (i.e. “keep”) and use (i.e. “bear”) arms.
I’ve written about this case and Second Amendment origins often enough, so today I want to explore this notion of protecting principles. Oft cited originalism for the Second Amendment shows it was considered a “natural right”, one that was inherent in the act of being (the founding fathers alternately attributed the right as God given, but God has not proffered an opinion on the Heller case, so his opinion is irrelevant).
Indeed, many rights embedded in the Constitution of of that ilk. It was and still is believed that for any sense of freedom to exists, certain rights must be preserved, even when they are generally unpopular (with upwards of 50% of all U.S. homes owning one or more firearms, the right seems to be very popular — certainly more popular than any television program on which Rosie O’Donnell appears). This includes instances of free speech that are patently offensive (but enough about any televised utterance from Rosie O’Donnell).
Take the Ku Klux Klan … and take them far, far away please. It is difficult to conceive of any form of speech more objectionable than the blathering of a Grand Wizard or similarly syphilitic intellect. Yet if I did not defend the right of Klansman to spew their perturbed pondering, then by default I grant the government the right to censor this blog, an occurrence that would make certain detractors delirious with glee, but which would certain ignite a second American revolution.
The Heller case then becomes not a test of gun control — that is the side show. It is a test to determine if the fundamental philosophy of a nation will be preserved. The founding question in this case is “do natural rights exist and are they sacred above the control of the national government?” Were the Supremes to rule against the individual rights theory of firearm ownership, they would be ruling against the very ideology of the nation and thus against the nation itself.
The Heller case is thus a pivotal moment in American history. The outcome will determine if the United States, as originally conceived, will continue, or if it will slowly parish under the vagaries of the judicial branch.
Choose wisely Roberts, Stevens, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer and Alito.