Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor ruled in January 2009 that states do not have to obey the Second Amendment’s commandment that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
In Maloney v. Cuomo, Sotomayor signed an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that said the Second Amendment does not protect individuals from having their right to keep and bear arms restricted by state governments.
The opinion said that the Second Amendment only restricted the federal government from infringing on an individual's right to keep and bear arms. As justification for this position, the opinion cited the 1886 Supreme Court case of Presser v. Illinois.
“It is settled law, however, that the Second Amendment applies only to limitations the federal government seeks to impose on this right,” said the opinion. Quoting Presser, the court said, “it is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the national government, and not upon that of the state.”
The Maloney v. Cuomo case involved James Maloney, who had been arrested for possessing a pair of nunchuks. New York law prohibits the possession of nunchuks, even though they are often used in martial arts training and demonstrations.
The meaning of the Second Amendment has rarely been addressed by the Supreme Court. But in the 2008 case of Heller v. District of Columbia, the high court said that the right to keep and bear arms was a natural right of all Americans and that the Second Amendment guaranteed that right to everyone.
The Second Amendment, the Supreme Court ruled, “guarantee(s) the right of the individual to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it ‘shall not be infringed.’”
“There seems to us no doubt,” the Supreme Court said, “that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.”
Sotomayor, however, said that even though the Heller decision held that the right to keep and bear arms was a natural right--and therefore could not be justly denied to a law-abiding citizen by any government, federal, state or local--the Second Circuit was still bound by the 1886 case, because Heller only dealt indirectly with the issue before her court.
Our "Rights" slowly being taken away? What are your thoughts?