Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (courtesy wikipedia.org)

“The liveliest (and oldest) former member of the U.S. Supreme Court is at it again. John Paul Stevens, 93, served on the highest court in the land for an impressive 35 years, from 1975 until his retirement in June 2010,” Paul Barrett writes at BloombergBusinessweek. “Known for his bow ties, brilliant legal mind, and striking transformation from Midwest Republican conservative to hero of the political left, Stevens remains an intellectual force to reckon with.” God, I hope not. Stevens utterly rejects the Heller ruling establishing an individual right to keep and bear arms. In fact, this is how he’d amend the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the militia shall not be infringed.” His justification for the change is predictably short-sighted . . .

“Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands.”

Emotional claims? Someone hasn’t been reading his history books . . . “James Madison made clear that, although the proposed Constitution offered sufficient guarantees against despotism by its checks and balances, the real deterrent to governmental abuse was the armed population,” David E. Vandercoy writes in The History of the Second Amendment. Vadercoy quotes Madison:

To these [the standing army] would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from amongst themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by government possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops …. Besides the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.

Anyway, Stevens’ inability to see that “the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands” is nothing compared to the slaughter caused by governments ruling over a disarmed populace goes to show the fragility of our rights in the hands of the judiciary. Which is why the founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment: to put firearms in our hands. He who has the guns makes the rules? Something like that. [h/t JR]

186 Responses to Former Supreme Court Justice: Amend the Second Amendment

  1. This is a good thing. See, now they’re admitting and accepting the 2ndA means what we say it means, so now their next course of action is to change it.

    • That’s an excellent point. Historically, the challenge has been the interpretation of what 2A “really means”. If we now all agree that there is, in fact, an individual right, our progressive betters can re-direct their obsessive-compulsive energy on an actual amendment.

    • Exactly, if it needs to be repealed or amended then that must mean its valid and protects the individual right. So, thanks for playing, judge, bye-bye.

    • Exactly right. If you dont like the 2A the proper way to get rid of it is to amend the constitution, not these crap laws that aren’t constitutional. AT LEAST he is honest about it even if his reasoning is flawed.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. Amending the Second Amendment will never happen, at least not in my child’s lifetime. So if that’s the antis’ strategy, I’m feeling pretty good.

    • Wrong answer. What Stevens is saying is exactly the same thing the minority in Heller said–that the exercise of the right to bear arms is limited to service in the militia, and that the majority opinion, finding an individual right to bear arms unconnected to the prefatory clause, is just plain wrong. Thus, to avoid this error in construction and to remove the ambiguity on which the majority relied, he recommends amending the amendment to make its intent and scope crystal clear. Read or reread the Heller dissent to see what I mean.

      • Here is a pull from my article posted here previously:

        “On September 9, 1789, it was proposed [in the Senate] to insert ‘for the common defence’ next to ‘bear arms,’ but this was defeated. The Senate passed: “A well regulated militia being the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

        This very issue was proposed and rejected during the writing and passage of the Bill of Rights.

        We have seen throughout history that the justices of SCOTUS frequently consider their opinions more important than the actual meaning of the Founders when they wrote the constitution. These great legal minds (/sarc) have been all too willing to spend a great deal of time writing opinions on the Second Amendment that for some reason entirely disregard the simple English phrase “…shall not be infringed.” which even a layman understands means that they have absolutely ZERO authority to re-consider what the meaning and purpose of the Second Amendment is.

        And in the history of The United States of America, since the adoption of The Constitution of the United States America, no portion of any of the original Bill of Rights has been amended or repealed. Any attempt by the very government these amendments are intended to constrain to modify their own limits of power by altering the Bill of Rights would be a certain step towards the very tyranny the Bill of Rights was intended to protect against.

        • +1
          If the 2nd can be nullified by a “clarifying amendment”, the entire Bill of Rights is endangered.

      • I agree with you about that is what he is “trying” to say but at the same time he is admitting that as it is written now, especially with the rulings such as heller, there would need to be an amendment to the amendment to change the direction on gun control in this country. Or just one more left leaning judge.

        • ..for those arguing against any kind of treason charge for the 35 year retired justice…I could see your POV…except for the fact this man has been paid for his entire career to “interpret” The Constitution …and he knows full well what the intent of The Founders were…and he knows that by using his position, prestige and perceived power to comment…he is attempting to reduce and diminish our “inalienable rights”…something he took an oath to protect…thus..when the time comes…charge him with treason..convict him and hang him…send a message…isn’t that what government is always trying to do..send a message?

          RJ O’Guillory
          Author-
          Webster Groves – The Life of an Insane Family

      • Considering the long-standing and prevailing definition of what “the Militia” is or was according to the founders when they drafted the Bill of Rights and for most of the time since then, I think a good argument would be made that private ownership and carrying of arms is still protected. Militia being: “all able-bodied men who are not members of the Army or Navy.”

        • What, then, about the old, infirm, petite, or otherwise less physically capable individual? The one who arguably needs a gun more than any able-bodied male. Should we ignore their rights because they cannot serve in a militia?

        • Of course not. Just pointing out that the “militia clause” is used all of the dang time by people asserting that the 2nd A protects a collective, not individual, right, but these people don’t realize that “the militia” isn’t an entity or organization with a headquarters and an armory and such — it’s basically everyone. It’s like saying that a forest is allowed to have leaves, but trees are not.

          And, YES, historical context has a place if one just absolutely must ‘interpret’ the constitution:

          “Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.”
          — James Madison

          …on a side note, you’re defining “able-bodied” pretty narrowly. “Not physically disabled” is a fair definition. I don’t think being old, petite, or ‘less physically capable’ puts you out of the able-bodied category. Also, there’s really no such thing as “serving” in the militia unless civilians as a group come to the common defense. You are the militia. Just your existence as a U.S. citizen. Whether or not you serve, practice, drill, talk to other people about it, or even own a firearm or not, you are the militia. That founder-era definition doesn’t say all men who practice military style defensive drills with others. It just says all able-bodied civilian men.

    • And have you noticed how 99% of the twits who want to abolish the Inconvenient Truth of the 2nd Amendment never seem to mention going through the Constitutional amendment process? They always seem to want it removed from the Bill of Rights by some kind of “national consensus”, or a vote of Congress, or an EO by our Dictator-in-Chief. That is because they know a snowball has a far better chance of surviving in Hell than their chances of getting 3/4 of the state legislatures and 2/3 of each house of Congress to vote to repeal the 2nd Amendment.

      So how long has ex-Justice Stevens had Alzheimer’s?

      • L. Neil Smith: “The freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right — subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility.”

        • “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. . . . Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court [or ours] to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 636;

        • L. Neil Smith; A Liberterian; He writes a really good science fiction series based on an alternate universe where the Constitutional Convention was recognized as a power grab; the Whiskey Rebellion was a success and the Articles of Confederation was upheld; a central government was never created, and the USA is a libertarian utopia( a nightmare for the statist and dependant class) as a consequence.

          You can down load many of his books off of Amazon as E- books,

      • Never gonna happen ‘ no way no how. They will never get the 38 states needed to ratify it let alone the two thirds of the house and senate .If they are ever stupid enough to try and get it passed by constitutional amendment a snowball has a better chance in hell than it would have.The founding fathers in their wisdom knew this was meant to prevent tyranny and thats why it has stood the test of time because any govt that would try a takeover would be defeated by the citizens they fear so much .

    • Eh it’s more like he’s admitting that his view lost out in the court so now it’s time to make it clear at the ballot box and take the court out of it.

    • The entire Heller court recognized an individual right. The minority concluded, however, that because of the prefatory clause (a well-regulated militia…), the right was limited to its exercise in connection with service in the militia.

      • The entire Heller court recognized an individual right. The minority concluded … that … the right was limited to its exercise in connection with service in the militia.

        Interesting. So, an individual right that can only be exercised in the context of a collective activity. Looks like the minority opinion is worth reading even for laymen, if nothing else, to see how one is to visualize a logically consistent implementation of such an idea. On the surface, just claiming it to be a collective or State right only would seem to make more sense.

        • Kinda doesn’t matter since according to the US Code, in section 10, we are ALL a part of the unorganized Militia.

        • ^^^ Bob, exactly. Even if the court did decide that it was limited to connection in militia service, they would then go to define “militia service” according to the founding docs and find out that ‘serving’ in the militia means little more than simply being a U.S. citizen. A few comments up I went into a touch more detail on this idea.

    • “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.” – George Mason

    • And it will really torque him if someone ever points out that per the letter of the Constitution the only “legal” military branch right now is the U.S. Navy.

      • Is your state is one on the few that has a militia (this is NOT the National Guard). And you still subject to the orders of the officers appointed over your.

    • As a lawyer, I find his argument to border on the idiotic. The unorganized militia consists of EVERY able-bodied man of at least 17 and under 45 years of age who is not a member of the National Guard or Naval Militia. Still leaves plenty of room for adult men to own firearms. But what about the ladies? His “well-reasoned” amendment would face a solid challenge from women under the 14th amendment’s equal protection clause. Lawyers who become politicians consistently underestimate their fellow man’s game theory skills. They are always one step behind.

      • As a lawyer, I find your reasoning to be suspect. The right to keep arms is distinct from the right to bear arms; the entire court recognizes as much. So you can have a right to keep arms in your home–just like the Swiss militia/army (i.e., own arms), but you have a right to “bear” those arms only in connection with service in the militia, so goes the argument. Therefore all other uses, i.e., any other form of bearing, is subject to regulation. This is what the minority in Heller said, and this is what Stevens parrots.

        • It’s funny how the court sees them as separate, as even a high school English student could tell you that in the phrase “the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” the “shall not be infringed part applies equally to the “keep” and “bear” parts of the sentence.

        • I agree that a reading of the “the right to keep and bear…” refers to a singular right; otherwise it would have been written “the rights to keep and to bear…”

        • @ Matt in FL:
          Sometimes plain English befuddles those who try to think too hard in an effort to redefine or diminish clear meaning. When simple meanings and logic fail, one must go back to the defining text spoken and written by those who drafted the document in question, in this case the Second Amendment.

          Of course, then the anti Second Amendment protagonist will change the subject to some other rhetoric such as Stevens did in the quoted passage: “Emotional claims…”.

        • Interesting take. In my opinion you, and most others, miss the most important point. The phrase “a free state” does not mean any political division such as a state or town, etc. it means the state of being free as in individual freedom. This is what prompted the founding fathers to clearly write that the 2nd was written to guard against tyranny and the inevitable slavery that attends it.

        • I see your logic, but disagree with the premise. If the Right to Keep were subject to different regulations than the Right to Bear, they would not have been written in to the same phrase in the amendment.

        • In spite of the fact that the 2nd refers to the “right of the people to keep and bear…”, and doesn’t say “the right of the people to keep arms and the militia to bear arms”?

          And when are we going to have the courts address the real-life definition of “infringed”? You know, the kind of definition that two 6-yr olds in the back seat of a car on a long trip will understand? Where the divide is marked on the seat by a strip of masking tape? “MOM! He’s on MY SIDE!” THAT is the meaning of infringed, and it extends from the floor of the car to the roof. If a 6-yr old can understand it, there may be a glimmer of hope for a judge. But don’t hold your breath.

      • Everyone belongs to the militia, as a direct result of anti-discrimination laws bases on age and gender.

        Legally, the militia now consists of ALL citizens.

        • Yep, “under 45” is such antiquated ageism.
          I’ll have to send out for some patches:

          “Gray Panther Brigade – Bulwark of Liberty”

        • Are profoundly retarded American citizens to be considered members of the militia?
          What of the criminals, morally corrupt, drug-addicted, physically handicapped — the lame, the halt, and the blind? Shall we consider that near 50% of our citizenry, those of the female gender — our mothers, wives and daughters — as members of the “unorganized militia” and subject to involuntary call to military service?

          Be careful about throwing a lariat with a wide loop.

  2. Typical statist. Good luck amending the 2nd amendment. If you hate this nation so much, move to Europe (or North Korea).

  3. Even if they change it, it won’t really change it, not for me and not for most of us. In for a penny, in for a pound. Once you start making my actions criminal, I lose a whole lot of incentive to toe/tow? the line.

    • You are very correct. Once you turn law abiding citizens into criminals we have no choice but to recognize our forefathers knew exactly why it was written. We then must comply with what has to happen next.

    • Toe. One guy scratches a line in the sand and dares the other guy to step over it. Step over it, and you step into a fight. If you toe the line (but don’t cross it) you’re giving in to the other guy’s ultimatum.

      The people who are so intent on drawing these arbitrary lines had best be very careful. Most of us don’t want to step across the line and into a fight if there’s any way around it. But if you give a guy no palatable alternative, he’s going to come out swinging.

      • I always heard it had to do with sailors having to line up on the deck of wooden ships with their toes all on the same board. Old sailors would sometimes say Toe the Plank!

        In any event it is still toe and not tow.

        • I know and understand the ‘toe the line’ phrase, but in this discussion of freedoms and fighting professions, the image of beast of burdens or Egyptians slaves towing a line connected to a large stone comes to mind. I think it kind of fits.

      • Ok, that makes sense. And yes, I don’t wanna be a pain in anybody’s ass, but you give me no other alternative an I will burn this mother down, figuratively speaking.

    • …not only F U “Justice” Stevens…but I hope before he dies..”we the people”…get a chance to charge him with treason…convict him…and watch his choking, 95 year-old ass wriggling on the Gallows…F U..you traitor…

      RJ O’Guillory
      Author-
      Webster Groves – The Life of an Insane Family

      • Since when does exercising one’s First Amendment right to propose an amendment to the Constitution constitute treason? Was it treason to offer the first ten amendments to the Constitution? Or any that followed? Please, get real.

        • I understand your POV…read my prior post regarding this topic..but yes…the man spent 35 years telling us he was making his judicial decisions based upon his knowledge of The Constitution …and one of the most basic “inalienable rights” is the right to defend myself..against animals, people…or government who act like animals…and to arm myself in order for that to happen…this pig is just another bought-off lawyer who has sucked on the public penis for decades..and as his treasonous ass dissolves into coming-death …he wants to still have his part of the limelight…I say we give it to him in the form of a conviction for decades of treason…and his participation in the plot to destroy the US…and we hang him after a conviction…

          Besides..who cares if he is really guilty…do you think The Supreme Court really cares about an individual right…or case against someone? Ha!…how naive can you get…? Do you really think The Justice System in the US works? Ha, ha,ha,ha…it is like “The Price is Right”….and the judge is Bob Barker….”come on down…you’re the next contestant on The Price is Right…now, how do you plead…did you want to cut a deal…plead guilty to ten smaller crimes…so we don’t find you already guilty and send you to prison for decades?”

          Treason…flat and clear…

          If I could find a Grand Jury that would indict every member of THE Supreme Court with treason…I would do so in a heartbeat…and house them in Federal Prison…until trial…along side every member of the impeached and indicted Congressional Delegations and The Executive Branch Members …(and convicted family members)….going back to 1963…and I’d start trials for treason…finding them guilty as the juries deem..and then start hanging them…

          RJ O’Guillory
          Author-
          Webster Groves – The Life of an Insane Family

      • RJ…you want to indite the entire government and hang THEM for treason? You are the freaking enemy of the state, idiot.

        • …sorry…nice try…but I am a 24 year veteran of government service around the world…(US DoD) over two decades of that time as a “Federally Protected Whistle-Blower”…your government is systemically corrupt…and survives only due to it’s gangster-like behavior and the systemic violation of their oaths of office, our Bill of Rights and The Constitution….I have personally been in meetings…watching, listening and refusing to violate the law and The Constitution…so if having the desire to replace corrupt, unethical violators of their oaths…with honest, ethical persons….if that makes me an enemy of the past / current executive / congress administrations since November 1963…then so be it…if our corrupt Congress had been doing it’s job since 1963, we wouldn’t be in this situation…they are all traitors and you sound uninformed…FYI…you have no idea..regarding the degree of treason and corrupt activity that goes on in government and if you did…and understood the danger it poses to our country and families…and you had seen the things I have seen…you would better understand my POV…too bad you will probably learn that lesson in real time..and that is going to violate your precocious dream world…where you think your government has any ethics, morals or conscience… Regards…RJ

  4. The really scary thing is that judiciary is currently the last bulwark against the tyranny of the anti-gun crowd. If not for Heller and MacDonald, gun rights would be a much more questionable enterprise than it currently is. One different vote in SCOTUS would have sent Heller in the other direction. Scary that “knowledgeable jurists” feel that they can ignore the spirit and letter of the Constitution when it says something that they happen to disagree with.

    • judiciary is currently the last bulwark against the tyranny

      Other the PEOPLE who are the ultimate arbiters of all? “Black Robes, thanks for sharing.”

      • The people are not the arbiters of my rights. I do not live in a democracy. The rights of the individual are inherent, natural, God-given (take your pick), and inalienable.

  5. Good grief. Taking seriously these fussy, befuddled old men with their fancy degrees and high stations is one of those childish things, right up there with my own speaking, thinking and reasoning as a child, that I put away when I became a man.

    • Old men with legal education are those who founded this great Nation. A Nation of laws, not of men. You would be best to remember that.

      • Hmmm…..average age of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was 44, not exactly ancient even for the times. At least a dozen of the 56 signers were under 35, including its primary author, 33 year old Thomas Jefferson!

        As for lawyers, 24 of the signers had “read law” under a lawyer, which was the process at the time, as opposed to formal law schools and bar exams. That’s well under half. Not nothing, but not dominating as you mistakenly suggest.

        And that’s all well after all the young, nonlawyer firebrands spent many years fomenting revolt and many nights at the Green Dragon Tavern drinking and plotting. Committee of Correspondence, Boston Caucus, Sons of Liberty? Any of these ring a bell? There’s more to a nation’s founding than just the bigwigs in powdered wigs, kind sir.

        As for this aged statist being a lawyer, so what? It’s only a lawyer trick to suggest that being a lawyer is synonimous with the rule of law, or that criticism of a given lawyer is a rejection of the rule of law. After all, Lenin was a lawyer, too. The most lawless President in U.S. history is also a lawyer. Try again.

    • My humble opinion is that Justice Stevens, much like his predecessor Justice Douglas, hung on much too long to his seat on the Supreme Court. Both started to shift positions with age, writing opinions increasingly based on personal sentiment rather than constitutional necessity.

      I agree with the view that his comment represents an acknowledgement of the historical correctness of Heller.

      He was a rich kid Chicago native, quite conservative in his prime, but on the downhill slope he began to change one view after another, seeming to reflect a belief that, constitution be damned, the court should adjust the meaning of the constitution to suit the tastes of his crowd, which was definitely “money, Chicago, elitist.”

      • And this is the crux of the problem: elitism. Too many of this country’s “elite” — and most Chicago attorneys with whom I have worked — look down on the masses as undereducated, irrational, emotionally unstable fools who cannot be trusted to care for themselves. They may not disdain those below their station, but they certainly do not trust them.

        • This country is run by the elites. The founding fathers were all elite business men/plantation owners. Almost all of our congress critters and presidents are wealthy business people and lawyers, and many, particularly in the current “presidential” class, have collegiate and advanced degrees from elite eastern universities like Yale and Harvard. Thus has it been, and so shall it always be. It takes money to be a politician at the national level. Truman was the one true exception.

        • What about Ronald Reagan?

          In any case, one should not confuse”elitism” and being part of the “elite”. Elitism is an attitude, being part of the elite is either being born to or having made it into the ranks of successful people.

      • If any laws need to be changed, we might consider the ones that let these folks sit as justices for life without repercussion. The current occupant of the White House can do no larger damage to this country than to fill the SC with judges that will do his will until they die. THAT’S why I get pissed when someone says they didn’t vote because “there’s no difference”. Yeah, there is. Where it counts most. No other circumstance exists that would allow such an unqualified person like Elana Kagan to even have SNIFFED being a justice.

  6. Here’s my legitimate question: If the 2A is truly intended to relate only to actual service in a military force (assuming antis don’t acknowledge “The People” as the militia), why on earth is that something that would need to be listed in the Bill of Rights in the first place? That’s like saying, “I’m going to hire you as an employee, and lookie here, I’m going to protect your right to actually work while you’re in the office.” If it truly means what they think it means, it’s the most unnecessary and meaningless sentence ever written.

    • The second has nothing to do with militia service, the militia is only mentioned as a source of tyranny the people would likely be defending against.

      • The Second Amendment enshrines an individual right to keep and bear arms, agreed. However, I don’t think the Framers necessarily regarded the militia as the source of tyranny. I think they regarded the state militia units as a bulwark against the federal government as a potential source of tyranny. Militia service and the ongoing need for individuals to be ready for it, was just the context they had in mind, but the right belongs to the individual.

        That’s an important point, but one which I wish they’d either clarified more in the 2A, or not mentioned at all. The meaning is sufficiently clear to most people, and its intent overwhelmingly clear from other sources, but the somewhat awkward wording of the 2A gives *just* enough cover for people like Stevens to open their mouths about it.

        And there’s the irony: the Second Amendment serves as a silent, yet very persuasive, reminder of the First Amendment, and ultimately is what affords fools like Stevens the freedom to prattle and belittle the Second. Only in America…..

    • This.
      Every other country has organized militias, police and armed forces. They don’t need a constitutional provision (like our 2nd amendment) to legitimize them.

    • Absolutely correct.

      And you have to take that incorrect line of thinking one step further. According to the collective right proponents, the Second Amendment is necessary to protect fellow citizens would government send them into battle unarmed. Who in their right mind thinks a government would ever send unarmed citizens into battle? They would be totally and completely ineffective.

      And now we have to look at logical flaw in that incorrect line of thinking. If government somehow has the authority to disarm everyone, then they also have the authority to arm everyone. And government would, indeed, do just that as they always have and always will do. Since government would, in their vision have the authority to arm citizens for battle, their reason for the Second Amendment is totally unnecessary.

      But gun grabbers really don’t care if they make sense. They are hysterical and simply throw words out hoping that something sticks.

      • I’m reminded of that scene in Enemy at the gates.

        ” the man in front of you carries the rifle, when he dies you pick up the rifle,” or however it went.

    • At the time, local security, both for public order and defense from Indians, was provided by the militia, organized on a local or state level, not by the federal government. And the founding fathers, fearful of a standing army, but recognizing that such an army could not be prohibited as it had under the Articles of Confederation, sought to keep it that way. So yes, the clause has a great deal of meaning.

      • Still makes no sense to me that we would need a constitutional amendment to prevent the government from disarming militias – state, local or otherwise.

        Even the most liberal states have policemen carrying firearms, allowed by state law, and the libs have never threatened to disarm the police.

        • Again, a little history. Remember Concord and Lexington? That was an attempt by the British Army to disarm the local militias, as they had already disarmed the citizens of Boston (by seizing arms they had promised to “keep safe”). The actions of the bites Army prior to the Revolution were both one of the main causes of discontent as well as a danger the Founders wished most assiduously to avoid.

  7. I think there would be a better chance of electing mickey mouse to high office than changing anything in the bill of rights.

      • Yes, it does do that.

        That being said, I would hardly consider the antis a majority. They are a loud shrill extremist minority that has the ears of sympathetic liberals and Democrats, the liberal media, and a few uninformed conservatives and political (usually vulnerable) RINOs, but hardly a majority. I think the greatest threat from the anti’s antics is Herr Bloomberg’s money bag.

  8. Thank God he’s retired. When I read just the headline, I was furious. The court does not exist to make these types of recommendations. Given the source, however, it’s a grumpy old man making an ultimately ineffectual statement of opinion.

    • Yes he’s retired, but there are at least 3 (possibly 4) current Justices that I personally believe would agree with him.

      • You should wish that those “three (possibly four)” agreed with him, and believed that only a constitutional amendment could impose a conversion of a personal right into a military-service permission.

    • It was Justice Stevens who wrote to humorist Dave Barry on official SC stationery to bring to his attention a new product called Beano. Dave ran with it, conjuring up a scene of high court flatulence with billowing judicial robes, opinions being blown off the bench, and Justice Ginsburg demanding, “Awright, who sliced the Limburger!!?”

      Now that’s called having too much time on your hands! There are other wacky notions emanating from the Supreme Court, including Earl Warren insisting that the 2nd Amendment only permitted the ownership of firearms as they were when the Constitution was originally ratified. He posed with a flintlock musket to make his point.

      Anyway, Justice Stevens is blowing pure smoke. He knows good & well that amending the Constitution is a slow, cumbersome process made that way on purpose by the Founders. Look how long it took to repeal Prohibition & that was using the alternate process also authorized in the Constitution. He should stick to things he has experience with, like Beano.

  9. Associate Justice Stevens possessed a brilliant legal mind in his day. That day ended many years ago. All one has to do is read his analysis of U. S. v. Miller in his Heller dissent, in order to appreciate how sad it is when someone as bright as he was has succumbed to dementia.

    • I agree with this completely. I thought the same of the late years of William O. Douglas. I’ll never forget when Douglas pulled the permission to edit his papers from Dennis Hutchinson, an excellent constitutional scholar and twice a SCOTUS clerk, and handed it to a cute young blond non-scholar that he eventually married. How, though, can we state a rule that would avoid the problem in the future? Not a simple problem.

  10. Suppose the Second Amendment said “A well educated electorate being necessary for self governance in a free state, the right of the people to keep and read books shall not be infringed.” Is there anyone who would suggest that means only registered voters have a right to read? — Robert Levy, Georgetown University Professor

  11. Right, because nations are utterly powerless to supply weapons to their armed forces unless their charter or constitution explicitly spells out that they have the right to.

    With all due respect to a former Supreme Court Justice, I think the crazy old fart needs to start wearing a second diaper over his mouth.

    • The constitution provided for the creation and arming of a militia before any bill of rights was proposed. Many nations with no gun rights for the people extend a privilege of arms to those involved in militia service. No right of arms required.

  12. Of course, this “brilliant legal mind” couldn’t manage to also mention the federalist intentions of removing that right of the people to defend themselves because the politicians in Washington believed they could sell the public on the benefits of the Dick Act (1903), thereby absolving the citizens of any responsibility (or bother) in having to train for the militia. It just so happens that, while the Dick Act “consolidated” the various states’ militias, it also took away the states’ ability to protect themselves from an expanding federal force.

    Typical elitist.

  13. I’m sure Justice Stevens lives in a nice gated community or bucolic country mansion far away from any crime and suffering. It is no doubt easy for him to sit up in his ivory tower and proclaim the need to disarm the peasantry.

    • I expect to see this newspaper story someday:

      EX-SUPREME COURT JUSTICE OVERCOMES BURGLAR WITH BON MOTS, NOT BULLETS (AP) Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was roused from his slumber at 3:00 AM this morning when the sound of breaking glass assailed the sonic tranquility of the gated Beauregard C. Cleghorn Retirement Community for Federal Panjandrums in rural Maryland. Stevens descended the main staircase of his palazzo and confronted meth addict BoDean Scruggins in his kitchen. The mullet coifed Scruggins pointed what was later identified as a .25 caliber Lorcin pistol at the distinguished jurist and demanded cash and Fritos. Instead of panicking at this threat to his life, loot, and larder, Stevens seated himself on a Louis XIV kitchen stool and replied: “Son, let’s talk about this.” Within half an hour, Mr. Scruggins was asleep on the Carrara marble floor. When later questioned by reporters at the Barney Frank County Correctional Center, the alleged burglar stated: “I reckon that Mister Justice Stevens’ brilliant legal mind just flat poleaxed me.”

  14. If the right to keep and bear arms is rigged to apply only to the armed forces, to whom will the privilege of free speech go? Monkey with one, the others will soon follow. His Honor should retreat to a sunny spot on the porch and learn to whittle.

  15. Stevens was never the type of judge to acknowledge his own fallibility nor the primacy of the law as written. On the contrary, he was the first person to acknowledge his own brilliance. He was the perfect Warren Court-style justice, always willing to make things up to conform to his own dictates and sensibilities at the time, relying on “emanations and penumbras” when the law would not suit his purposes.

    Stevens always treated the Constitution as an unfortunate relic of a bygone era. Little does Stevens know that the real relic of a bygone era is him.

    • I’m no constitutional scholar, but it really did appear that he went from conservative to liberal taking his penumbras with him. Another way to put it is that his views shifted with the changing biases of the Chicago oligarchs, rather than with a deeper study of the constitution.

      • Stevens was Harry Blackmun, Part II. The problem with both Stevens and Blackmun was that, after enough time and deference from lawyers and judges, they began to believe that they were soooo much smarter than everybody else.

        Just like Barry.

  16. He wears bow ties and he certainly “transformed,” but the needle on his brilliance tank points to “E.” His great brain apparently has no available space to remember the oath he took to protect and defend the document he now seeks to destroy.

  17. I’ve got a better Amendment. Activist judges that re-interpret
    Constitutional law rather than use it as the sole basis for
    legal decisions shall not only be stripped of their position
    but be barred from the judiciary (local through federal) and
    have every single previous decision instantly null and voided
    pending review.

    Furthermore, any judges that use international law in their
    decisions (excepting those specifically dealing with
    international legalities i.e. treaties, tariffs etc…) shall not only
    be canned and have every decision annulled, but be given
    the choice between renouncing their citizenship and leaving
    or be tried for treason.

    • Since American common law traces its roots to English common law (not surprising given that that was the law that rules the colonies), I guess that means we have to throw out every law and every judicial decision ever rendered? Oh and by the way, Louisiana traces its code style legal system to France (Napoleonic Code), so I guess it is not safe from your sweeping broom either. And all of those treaties we sign with foreign nations? Can’t be interpreted or enforced by an American court, right, because we would have to apply international law? And we had better stop shipping our goods by sea, since the law of the sea is an international treaty too. Nor can we send anyone into space–and even our satellites are suspect–because they too are subject to international agreements.

      • No, the laws would not have to changed or be thrown out. Even if international laws were used as a basis, the laws were created in a Constitutionally acceptable manner (i.e. through the Legislative branch). Judges do not have this power to create law, only to rule using existing law and precedent. I also specifically exempted judges to specifically deal with international issues. It’s judges that have no need or business looking at outside laws that I take issue with. The judges of whom I am referring have openly used international laws, including Sharia law, to bypass or subvert US law. Do some quick google-fu on the number of judges who’ve used Sharia to okay honor killings, beatings, wrongful imprisonment etc… Also consider that the antis have openly tried to push international law as an end-around the Constitution. Ever hear of the UN Small Arms Treaty?

  18. Who decides what a well regulated militia actually is? A local gun club is certainly well regulated and probably more organized than most government agencies. Suppose the amendment was changed, does this fool really think that the existing militia groups wouldn’t see their membership skyrocket, in addition to new groups pop up everywhere?

    • As long as Justice Jackass recognizes the individual right to bear arms, I don’t care what the definition of “militia” is.

    • The constitution decides what a well-regulated militia is, under the powers of congress. It isn’t provided for by the second amendment, it is defended against.

  19. I think I see a brady smile on his face. That, “won’t this be a big beautiful word if criminals can slaughter innocents unoposed”. Your going to take spoons so people don’t get fat, brilliant judge, I’d pay good money to see you go back in time & present that to our founding fathers, they weren’t quite as dumb as you judge.

  20. I bet the antis are kicking themselves about now. I’ve read that Kagan, while liberal, may not be the anti-2A zealot this Stevens fool that she replaced is.
    Then there is Kennedy who sided with the conservatives on Heller. Kennedy, who was nominated after Bork was rejected by the Senate, isn’t perfect, but he is better than Bork (March 1, 1927 – December 19, 2012) in that Kennedy is breathing. Kennedy is not the anti that BO would have sent to stink up the court after the Senate rubber stamped nominee Bloomberg.

    • Scalia has taken her on hunting expeditions in order to try to sway her to her side. Actually touching and firing a weapon is the antis’ kryptonite, which is why they try their hardest to make it as hard as possible to do. Just imagine how different the attitudes in this country would be if the a version of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program was mandatory for all grade school students across the nation. Do it for the children!

    • I’ve read that Kagan, while liberal, may not be the anti-2A zealot

      We’re all guessing on this question, but we will get some kind of answer soon. One thing that we all know for sure — if the gungrabbers lose Kagan, they are lost. Period. So the pressure on her from the left, her ideological home, will be extraordinary.

  21. Usually I respect my elders. Not this time.

    The words “Militia” and “people” are clearly separate in that brilliant simple sentence from 1791.

    Perhaps the honorable Stevens is the one who should be respecting HIS elders.

    • Obviously Stevens is more concerned with the decline of Chicago and Detroit that with any constitutional issue. I hope when (if) I get to my nineties people will cut me some slack and leave my most random musings off the front page. I’m confident this will happen, but, laugh, for all the wrong reasons.

      I hope someone takes the time to point out to Stevens the recent evolution in the DPD Chief’s views, and the stabilizing force that Heller and McDonald have helped to nurture, the force of responsible armed citizens to discourage criminality when the local government institutions (courts included) fails to do so.

  22. From the article:

    “Since Stevens believes that the authors of the Second Amendment were primarily concerned about the threat that a national standing army posed to the sovereignty of the states—as opposed to homeowners’ anxiety about violent felons …” [snip]

    Perhaps the founders felt it unnecessary to explicitly state that people have a right to personal self-defense, because anyone expressing a contrary opinion would have been laughed out of the room and deemed a buffoon.

  23. Well all I can say is thank goodness Stevens is retired.

    Thanks for the tip- seems like an even-handed take on Justice Stevens, and I like the second to last paragraph-

    “As a practical matter, the Stevens amendment of the Second Amendment is DOA in any discussion of gun policy in the foreseeable future. He must know that. He also must know that just as constitutional interpretations evolve, so do political and cultural ideas. For better or worse, guns have acquired a symbolic meaning in modern American society to which Stevens, for all his erudition, gives short shrift.”

    But I have to say, I am wary of Bloomberg News, given complaints in past that Bloomberg has tarnished its reputation for factual reporting, with smears that border on hit pieces:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/09/bloomberg-legitimate-news-story-or-liberal-smear.php

    and now, the outright anti-gun agenda, that its founder has promised his vast wealth to advance.

    I note Mr Barnett is the author of “Glock, The Rise of America’s Gun” which is acknowledged as a fine book, research-wise, but which some criticize for evidence of Mr Barnetts own pro-gun-control views. I cant comment as I havent read the book, but have bot it on Kindle, and am going to give Mr Barnett the same benefit of the doubt we have given Dan Baum here, in past.

    I do see a continuous theme in the MSM, “the Constitution is outdated” advanced by the typical left wing Talking Points Memo message spreaders on what the cool kids all should think, and the faux news bias analysis, or should I simply say, disinformation from places like Media Matters, that keeps popping up, and getting knocked down by the adults in the sandbox of rational thinking on the innertubz, like Whack a Mole. But keeps popping up in new Evolve -lutions, and sadly stupid repeats of discredited facts, aimed at the low info voters, like MDAs, and others, that keep being spread, like weeds, that need constant tending, to keep the garden of freedom growing strong.

  24. Leave aside the defense of the people against government tyranny for a moment. What about the defense of the people against criminal tyranny?

    He’s concerned about the slaughter now? Wait until you see the slaughter of an unarmed law abiding citizenry at the hands of armed criminals with a government unwilling and unable to protect them. Just look south of the border for a sterling example.

    I wonder if he believes that criminals will follow the rainbow and drop off their firearms at the hooves of unicorns in exchange for pixie dust at the local gun buy back. As part of Bill of Rights 2.0

    After all…if it saves the rainbow of even one unicorn…

  25. I serve in the militia. The One Man militia entrusted with the security and safety of my home and family.

    There ya go. Problem solved.

  26. He is full of shit and he knows it.

    If the Second Amendment was to protect States from tyranny of a standing Federal Army, and the Second Amendment was supposed to protect the States, then Article I Section 10 of the US Constitution would have to be modified at the same time, since it explicitly disallows States from keeping troops without the consent of Congress.

    “No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

    All the Congress would need to do is remove consent to keep troops, and the Second Amendment as interpreted and proposed by Stevens would be meaningless.

    A right of protection cannot require the consent of the body from which the protection is supposed to be provided.

    Since the Second Amendment makes no attempt at modifying Article I Section 10, it cannot apply to State troops.

    • ^ This … plus the recent Peruta ruling of the 9th Circuit Court should be the total and complete argument presented to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal of the decisions of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Circuit Courts regarding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms outside the home.

      The gun grabbers pushed it and now they have painted themselves into a corner. There really is no other way that the U.S. Supreme Court can rule at this point. If they rule otherwise, it will be their official public declaration of their total and complete illegitimacy … and moral grounds for the citizens to dissolve the court.

  27. Never mind that whole Bill of Rights thing… Stevens’ proposal exposes what he really thinks — individual people don’t have rights, the government does. The Bill of Rights is really only a list of conditional privileges.

  28. Change the 2nd amendment? Sure! Here’s my suggestion:
    “A well-disciplined and armed populace, being necessary to a free and secure state of being, the Right of all persons to keep and carry arms shall not be restricted in any way.”

    • Why with the first clause?

      How about: “Government at any level shall have no authority to restrict the ownership of arms.”

      • Because it’s similar to, and carries the same meaning as, the original wording, phrased in such a way as to convey that meaning to the average American today.

  29. In some states that thinking could seriously backfire. I mean post 86 sample, yes it’s for the Utah militia. I will take one of each.

  30. I don’t see how his wording would change a thing. I am the militia, and as such I must own my own firearms, in case i am ever called to defend myself or my homeland.

  31. I don’t think Mr. Justice Stevens changed as much as the world around him has changed. He has been remarkably consistent throughout his distinguished career. A truly brilliant jurist and completely honorable man. The chances of amending the constitution on this issue are extremely remote.

    • Brilliant and honorable? First he votes against affirmative action in Bakke, then he votes for it (and against his own precedent) in Grutter v. Bollinger. First he’s against obscenity and thinks the First Amendment doesn’t protect it, then he reverses himself and thinks that 1A does protect it. He spent his entire career enlarging the Commerce Clause so that everything is now commerce (and subject to federal control). And he opposed Strict Scrutiny for anything.

      He was neither brilliant nor honorable. He was and remains an opportunistic and unprincipled worm and the self-styled Chief Justice of the Liberal Supreme Court.

  32. You are not God Stevens, good luck getting 3/4 of the states behind your little fairy tale without starting another civil war in the process.

  33. You have the right to serve the government whenever it commands you; and you being so commanded, the government will benevolently accept your meager contribution to its collective might.

  34. That’s nice, grampa.

    He’s old enough to be from back when it was the right who trusted the government. A Hank Hill republican, as it were.

  35. Besides which, the very idea that the clauses providing for the establishment, training, and discipline of a militia does not also allow that militia to be armed flies in the face of common sense and the understood meaning of the word “militia”.

    It’s akin to arguing that, while the Constitution authorizes Congress to keep a navy, and to raise an army, it does not have the authority to arm either one.

  36. The nice man at Powerline blog already explained this, men. Under 10 USC sec 311 all, as in A-L-L able bodied men between the ages of 17 and 45 are already IN the militia, and that with no terms or parameters of service provided. Of course that may yet bode ill for the geezers amongst us, but it makes a point both about the alleged ‘brilliant legal mind’ and the idiocy of their cause.

  37. I guess The Founding Fathers, many of whom were lawyers, were legal slouches compared to this paragon of legal knowledge. They need him to tell us the plain meaning of words. I guess the likes of John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, & Aaron Burr could not rise to the intellectual level that this man so clearly possesses.

  38. One of the reasons the 2nd Amendment was even written into the Constitution was to prevent a tyrannical government from stepping all over an unarmed populace largely unable to defend itself. Another was in order to ensure that if the need should ever arise, should an enemy bring the fight to our home and hearth, the ENTIRE COUNTRY would serve as its militia. Not only the appointed military, but the men and women who call this country their home. Why do people not see this? What is so difficult to understand about this?

  39. Note to the keeper of the realm, the upper right corner ad autoplays with no apparent means to turning it off. First instance the advertisement was for “Kayak”, the next was Verizon.

  40. Dear Mr. Former Justice Stevens –

    You are no longer a part of the Bench. Please STFU and enjoy your retirement.

    Thank you
    America

  41. What the silly twit doesn’t realize is that his proposed amendment wouldn’t change anything. We are all part of the militia and we are serving in it until we say we aren’t.

  42. You know, of course, that when they get enough people together to actually try to re-write the US Constitution it will be the same point in time when the shooting starts.

  43. Dear judge dredd, 300 million guns says your opinion doesn’t mean sh!t. I’m sure you can now ass er tain the sit she a tion. Thank you…for not smoking.

  44. “Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.” – Thomas Jefferson

    “A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.” – Thomas Jefferson

    Please sir, get bent.

  45. Shall I tell you about the slaughter caused by Government weapons?

    Do you really want to have a discussion about who kills more people?

    We can have a conversion about my AR-15 once you’ve taken away Obama’s unmanned drones.

    Until then, I don’t believe you are sincere about stopping any sort of slaughter so STFU.

  46. So, another person who hasn’t read history enough to understand why the second amendment says what it does. If he were to read a little bit he would know it was made to be an individual right. Otherwise tyrants could easily just disband the militia taking all guns away on a whim. His mind probably isn’t as sharp as it once was.

  47. I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials.
    George Mason

    I’m a member of the militia, as are all who are here, Mr. Stevens. I will no longer be serving in it when I am no longer breathing.

  48. Aside from contradicting that clear statement of “the right of the PEOPLE (and not the MILITIA) to keep and bear Arms ” in the 2nd Amendment, that “collective right of the militia” interpretation is as foolish as declaring “the army has the right to bear arms”.
    That arms-bearing by any army, including the specific type of army known as a militia, is implicit in the nature of such armed forces. It should be noted that Article I Section 8 of the Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power … To raise and support Armies …”, but nowhere does it state that the troops of any such army raised by Congress may be armed, nor is it necessary to state what is implicit.
    Armies of all kinds — militia or regular troops, volunteer, conscript or mercenary — bear arms.
    It is what they do.
    They are ARMED forces.
    They carry guns.

    The bearing of arms by any kind of army does not require an explicit statement, much less the enumeration and guarantee of a right to do so, by a Constitutional amendment in the Bill of Rights — a document concerned with the enumeration and guarantee of various “rights of the PEOPLE”.
    A militia, like any other kind of army, is armed.

    The only army I know that does NOT bear arms is The Salvation Army (lousy infantry, but a great brass section).

  49. I would question whether there is really such a thing as a “brilliant” legal mind as far as deciding court cases goes. It was a so-called “brilliant legal mind” who upheld the SCOTUS case that said that the government has a right to forcibly sterilize a woman (I forget the case and the justice, but Jonah Goldberg talks about it in his book “Liberal Fascism”). Brilliance in law can apply to arguing cases, but otherwise, it seems to me more just a matter of opinion and knowledge of history.

  50. So I stayed out late last night having a drink with the fellas and came home to an icy glare from the Mrs. When I asked if she was OK, she said yes.

    If I used your literal interpretation, I would say yes everything was OK.

    If I used Steven’s interpretation I would come to the conclusion that it wasn’t.

    Its all about interpretation…….

  51. Irrational old man that he is, does he not remember Hitler & Stalin, and the slippery slope that civilian disarmament is? This guy lays waste to the assumption that old people are wise.

  52. I vehemently disagree with his conclusions but can at least respect that he appears to be calling for using the correct process; a constitutional amendment. It’s the dishonest, back door thievery through violation of the Constitution that makes my blood boil. If such an amendment to the Constitution were legitimately and successfully undertaken, I would then know it was absolutely time for me to leave my country and make another my home or rise up against this government in a last bid effort to restore our Republic.

  53. I don’t need and don’t care what he says about my constitutionally protected second amendment right or any other amendment right.
    My rights, my Natural, Inalienable Rights are Pre-Constitutional.
    Even if the Government fails to protect my Rights, I still get to protect them.
    I still get to choose.
    And if that senile old man says otherwise, he should be turned in to Soylent Green.

  54. Just a couple problems and the former black robe should know better……… the Constitution is a limiting document in that it limits the power of the government and not the people.

    In fact, there was a large debate between our Founding Fathers on even including the Bill of Rights because we retain all our rights. The Constitution simply grants a few temporary powers (that we can revoke) to the government so that it may do a few things on our behalf.

    The 2nd Amendment, nor any other Amendment, limits our rights or defines the entire scope of our rights. If the 2nd Amendment didn’t exist we would still retain the power to own guns. If the there were no 1st Amendment we would still retain the right to speak without government interference.

    People need to realize that the Constitution does not define our rights in totality, it merely affirms some of our rights that some of our Founding Fathers thought were of critical importance and should be pointed out specifically. I wish they would of decide against the Bill of Rights because over the years even some of our so-called “elite” judicial minds have forgotten that we would have these rights with or without them being written down.

  55. I recently began a new series of posts entitled “District of Columbia v Heller Dissent” at On
    Second Opinion Blog, which analyzes and documents historical errors relating to Second Amendment arguments.

    The first part was posted about two weeks ago. Several additional parts will be forthcoming in the next week or so.

    The subtitle of the first post is “Justice Stevens’ Train Wreck of American History”. Justice Stevens Heller dissent view about Second Amendment intent is directly contradicted by relevant period sources.

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