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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #14)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:09 PM

38. Please interpret another constitutional provision of the era.

 

The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in a state it ought not, therefore, to be restricted in this commonwealth. Mass. Const. pt. I, art. XVI (1780)


What do you think that is saying?

I went into my take at some length here:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1172&pid=76827

While it is true that the emphasis on individual self-defense was later, the right itself was ALWAYS an individual right. The very first time the Supreme Court mentioned the Second Amendment it called it a right "of person." The idea that this is a personal right is not some modern invention, it was well understood from the beginning:

For example, no one, we presume, will contend that Congress can make any law in a Territory respecting the establishment of religion, or the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people of the Territory peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for the redress of grievances.

Nor can Congress deny to the people the right to keep and bear arms, nor the right to trial by jury, nor compel any one to be a witness against himself in a criminal proceeding.


These powers, and others, in relation to rights of person, which it is not necessary here to enumerate, are, in express and positive terms, denied to the General Government;...

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=60&invol=393


The Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment enshrined in the Constitution their clear, uncompromising understanding that the right was individual:

“{The Fourteenth Amendment's} first clause, . . . relates to the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States . . . . To these privileges and immunities, whatever they may be—for they are not and cannot be fully defined in their entire extent and precise nature—to these should be added the personal rights guaranteed and secured by the first eight amendments of the Constitution; such as the freedom of speech and of the press; the right of people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, a right appertaining to each and all of the people; the right to keep and bear arms. . . .

The great object of the first section of this amendment is, therefore, to restrain the power of the States and compel them at all times to respect these great fundamental guarantees.”—Senator Jacob Howard introducing the Fourteenth Amendment to the Senate, quoted by Yale Professor Amar. Akhil Reed Amar, The Bill of Rights, Creation and Reconstruction (Harrisonburg, VA: R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company, 1998), 185-6 (emphases supplied).


While it is true that this was after 1812, it is also true that the Fourteenth Amendment is part of the Constitution, a more important part, I would argue, than the Second. It cannot be ignored. And the language of the Fourteenth Amendment, read in historical context, clearly shows that the Second Amendment is a personal, individual right that is enforceable against the states.

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