Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to lie with misquotations!

From The Future of Gun Control by Alex Altman published in Time 26 June 2008
The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision overturning Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban is the biggest gun rights ruling since the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. The Court had not waded into this divisive issue since 1939, when it declared, "We cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear" arms. But on Thursday the Court broke its silence to do just that, ruling for the first time that the Constitution confers an individual right to gun ownership beyond providing for "a well regulated Militia," as the amendment states. The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Justice Antonin Scalia, the court's arch-conservative, wrote in the majority opinion.
The actual quote from US v. Miller is:
In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State of Tennessee, 2 Humph., Tenn., 154, 158.
I have already pointed out, the Miller decision incorporated by reference, the decision of
Aymette v. State, 21 Tenn. (2 Hump.) 154 (1840). Aymette makes the following point.
To make this view of the case still more clear, we may remark, that the phrase, "bear arms," is used in the Kentucky constitution as well as in our own, and implies, as has already been suggested, their military use. The 28th section of our bill of rights provides, "that no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay in equivalent, to be ascertained by law." Here we know that the phrase has a military sense, and no other; and we must infer that it is used in the same sense in the 26th section, which secures to the citizen the right to bear arms. A man in the pursuit of deer, elk and buffaloes, might carry his rifle every day, for forty years, and, yet, it would never be said of him, that he had borne arms, much less could it be said, that a private citizen bears arms, because he has a dirk or pistol concealed under his clothes, or a spear in a cane. So that, with deference, we think the argument of the court in the case referred to, even upon the question it has debated, is defective and inconclusive
.I think that quote from Aymette puts paid to any attempt to try to say that Miller related to private uses of firearms.

Or as Justice Douglas, who was on the Court at the Time of Miller, said in ADAMS v. WILLIAMS, 407 U.S. 143 (1972)?
The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 , upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia." Id., at 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, "must be interpreted and applied" with the view of maintaining a "militia."

"The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be [407 U.S. 143, 151] secured through the Militia - civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion." Id., at 178-179.

Critics say that proposals like this water down the Second Amendment. Our decisions belie that argument, for the Second Amendment, as noted, was designed to keep alive the militia. But if watering-down is the mood of the day, I would prefer to water down the Second rather than the Fourth Amendment.
Before you come up with any silly comment about Douglas not understanding Miller, keep in mind that while he was a member of the court even if he did not take part in the oral argument.

I would assume that he would have been privy to the discussions surrounding the Miller decision--Don't you??????

Anyway, taking a half-quotation, out of context, definitely changes the meaning from what was originally intended.

1 comment:

  1. Gee, do you think, pooch? This coming from the guy who only uses the 2nd half of this quote:
    St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries 1:App. 300

    This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.
    orlin sellers