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«Congressional Research Service 7-5700 R40820 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress The Second Amendment ...»

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The Second Amendment and Incorporation:

An Overview of Recent Appellate Cases

Vivian S. Chu

Legislative Attorney

September 21, 2009

Congressional Research Service

7-5700

www.crs.gov

R40820

CRS Report for Congress

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

The Second Amendment and Incorporation

Summary

The Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller held that the Second Amendment protects an

individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and protects the right to use that firearm for traditional lawful purposes such as self-defense within the home. The Court conducted an extensive analysis of the Second Amendment to interpret its meaning, but the decision left unanswered other significant constitutional questions, including the standard of scrutiny that should be applied to laws regulating the possession and use of firearms, and whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. Three federal appellate circuits have since addressed whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. Two of these circuits, the Second and Seventh, both held that the Second Amendment did not apply to the states, whereas the Ninth Circuit has initially held that the Second Amendment is applicable to the states, although a rehearing en banc is scheduled and may affect that decision.

This report presents an overview of the principles of incorporation, the early Supreme Court cases that addressed the application of the Second Amendment to state governments, and the federal appellate cases that have addressed incorporation of the Second Amendment since the Heller decision.

Congressional Research Service The Second Amendment and Incorporation Contents Background

What Is Incorporation?

Has the Supreme Court Addressed Incorporation of the Second Amendment?

Analysis of Post-Heller Appellate Decisions on Incorporation

Contacts Author Contact Information

Congressional Research Service The Second Amendment and Incorporation Background On June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court issued its decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 1 holding by a 5-4 vote that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and protects the right to use that firearm for traditional lawful purposes such as self-defense within the home. In Heller, the Court affirmed a lower court’s holding that declared three provisions of the District of Columbia’s Firearms Control Regulation Act to be unconstitutional.2 Although the Court conducted an extensive analysis of the Second Amendment to interpret its meaning, the decision left unanswered other significant constitutional questions, including the standard of scrutiny that should be applied to laws regulating the possession and use of firearms, and whether the Second Amendment applies to the states. It is the latter issue that has been most commented upon by lower courts in postHeller cases.

This report presents an overview of the principles of incorporation, the early Supreme Court cases that addressed the application of the Second Amendment to state governments, and the federal appellate cases that have addressed incorporation of the Second Amendment since the Heller decision.

What Is Incorporation?

An incorporation analysis asks whether the protections provided for in the first eight amendments of the Bill of Rights apply to state governments in the same manner that they directly apply to the federal government.

Initially, in the early 19th century, the Supreme Court had ruled in Barron v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore that the protection of individual liberties in the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, not to state or local governments.3 Chief Justice John Marshall, writing for the Court, stated: “The constitution was ordained and established by the people of the United States for themselves, for their own government, and not for the government of the individual states.”4 He further stated that had the framers intended the Bill of Rights to apply to the states, “they would have declared this purpose in plain and intelligible language.”5 Although application of the Bill of Rights solely to the federal government would mean that state and local governments could then be free to infringe upon these individual protections, Chief Justice Marshall observed that “[e]ach state established a constitution for itself, and in that constitution, provided such limitations and restrictions on the power of its particular government, as its 554 U.S. __; 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008). For more on the Supreme Court’s decision, see CRS Report R40137, District of Columbia v. Heller: The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment, by Vivian S. Chu.

Specifically, the three provisions ruled unconstitutional were (1) D.C. Code § 7-2502.02, which generally barred the registration of handguns; (2) D.C. Code § 22-4504, which prohibited carrying a pistol without a license, insofar as the provision would prevent a registrant from moving a gun from one room to another within his home; and (3) D.C. Code § 7-2507.02, which required that all lawfully owned firearms be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device. 128 S. Ct. at 2817-19.

32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 243 (1833).





Id. at 247.

Id. at 250.

–  –  –

judgment dictated.”6 Although the argument continued to be made that the Bill of Rights applied to the states, the Court rejected this contention time and time again.7 It was not until after the Civil War when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified that claimants resorted to the Privileges or Immunities Clause of Section 1 of the amendment for judicial protection.8 In the Slaughter House Cases, the Supreme Court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that a state law, which granted a monopoly to the City of New Orleans, created involuntary servitude, denied them equal protection of the laws, and abridged their privileges or immunities as citizens under the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.9 In rejecting the plaintiffs’ challenge, the Court narrowly construed all of these provisions. With respect to the Privileges or Immunities Clause, the Court held that this clause was not meant to protect individuals from state government actions and was not meant to be a basis for federal courts to invalidate state laws. 10 Specifically, the Court stated that “it is only the [privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States] which are placed by this clause under the protection of the Federal Constitution, and that the [privileges and immunities of the citizen of the State] whatever they may be, are not intended to have any additional protection by the paragraph of this amendment.”11 Furthermore, the Court stated that “privileges and immunities relied on in the argument are those which belong to the citizens of the States as such, and that they are left to State governments for security and protection, and not by this article [the Fourteenth Amendment] placed under the special care of the Federal government.”12 This ruling has never been expressly overturned, and therefore continues to preclude use of the Privileges or Immunities Clause to apply the Bill of Rights.13 In the early 20th century, the Supreme Court in Twining v. New Jersey14 recognized the possibility that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment15 incorporates provisions of the Bill of

Rights, thereby making them applicable to state and local governments. The Court observed that:

[I]t is possible that some of the personal rights safeguarded by the first eight Amendments against National action may also be safeguarded against state action, because a denial of them would be a denial of due process of law... not because those rights are enumerated in the first eight Amendments, but because they are of such nature that they are included in the conception of due process of law.16 Id. at 247.

See Livingston’s Lessee v. Moore, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 469 (1833); Permoli v. First Municipality, 44 U.S. (3 How.) 589 (1845); Fox v. Ohio, 46 U.S. (5 How.) 410 (1847); Smith v. Maryland, 59 U.S. (18 How.) 71 (1855); Withers v.

Buckley, 61 U.S. (20 How.) 84 (1858); Pervear v. Massachusetts, 72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 475 (1867); Twitchell v.

Commonwealth, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 321 (1869).

U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” See also Constitution Annotated, 1001 (2004).

Slaughter House Cases, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 36, 85 (1873).

Id. at 77-78.

Id. at 74.

Id. at 78.

The Court, however, did revive the Privileges or Immunities Clause in Saenz v. Roe, 526 U.S. 489 (1999), by using it to protect the right to travel.

211 U.S. 78 (1908).

U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. “[N]or shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Twining, 211 U.S. at 99.

–  –  –

Although the Court acknowledged that the Due Process Clause included “principles of justice so rooted in the tradition and conscience of our people as to be ranked fundamental,”17 and therefore “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty,”18 the Court, despite debate, has never endorsed total incorporation of all of the Bill of Rights. Rather, the Court embraced what is known as the doctrine of “selective incorporation,” which holds that the Due Process Clause incorporates the text of certain provisions of the Bill of Rights.19 It was in Gitlow v. New York that the Supreme Court for the first time said that the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech applies to the states through its incorporation into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.20 Although the Court held that New York’s criminal anarchy statute did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment because the state was properly exercising its police power, the Court, in finding incorporation, stated, “[F]reedom of speech and of the press... are among the fundamental personal rights and ‘liberties’ protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the States.”21 Thus far, the Supreme Court has found the following provisions of the Bill of Rights to be

incorporated:

• The First Amendment’s establishment clause, 22 free exercise clause, 23 and protection of speech,24 press,25 assembly, 26 and petition.27

• The Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures and the requirement for a warrant based on probable cause; also the exclusionary rule, which prevents the government from using evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. 28

• The Fifth Amendment’s prohibition of double jeopardy,29 protection against selfincrimination,30 and requirement that the government pay just compensation when it takes private property for public use.31

• The Sixth Amendment’s requirements for speedy32 and public trial,33 by an impartial jury,34 with notice of the charges, 35 and for the chance to confront Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 325 (1937) (citations omitted).

Id.

See also Constitution Annotated, 999-1008 (2004).

Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925).

Id. at 666.

Everson v. Board of Ed., 330 U.S. 1 (1947); Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948);

Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985).

Hamilton v. Regents, 293 U.S. 245, 262 (1934); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296 (1940).

Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925); Fiske v. Kansas, 274 U.S. 380 (1927); Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S.

359 (1931).

Near v. Minnesota ex rel. Olson, 283 U.S. 697 (1931).

DeJonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353 (1937).

DeJonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353 (1937); Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, 307 U.S. 496 (1939);

Bridges v. California, 314 U.S 252 (1941).

Wolf v. Colorado, 338 U.S. 784 (1949); Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961).

Benton v. Maryland, 395 U.S. 784 (1969).

Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1 (1964); Griffin v. California, 380 U.S. 609 (1965).

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R.R. Co. v. City of Chicago, 166 U.S. 226 (1897).

–  –  –

adverse witnesses, 36 to have compulsory process to obtain favorable witnesses, 37 and to have assistance of counsel if the sentence involves possible imprisonment.38

• The Eight Amendment’s prohibition against excessive bail39 and cruel and unusual punishment.40 Over time, the Court has articulated various tests for deciding whether a provision of the Bill of Rights is incorporated through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court in Duncan v. Louisiana summarized these formulations, stating, “the question has been asked whether a right is among those ‘fundamental principles of liberty and justice which lie at the base of all our civil and political institutions,’ whether it is ‘basic in our system of jurisprudence,’ and whether it is a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial.’”41 The Court also noted, in discussing state criminal processes, that “the question is... whether given this kind of [common-law] system a particular procedure is fundamental—whether, that is, a procedure is necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty.”42 Has the Supreme Court Addressed Incorporation of the Second Amendment?

Over 100 years ago, the Supreme Court held in United States v. Cruikshank43 that the Second Amendment does not act as a constraint upon state law. In its brief treatment of the Second Amendment, the Court in Cruikshank stated that “it is not a right granted by the Constitution.

Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.”44 Furthermore, it held that “this is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.”45 This holding was reaffirmed in Presser v. Illinois.46 In Presser, it is interesting to note that the Court further commented that because “all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the States,” the “States cannot, even laying the constitutional provision [aside], prohibit the people (...continued) Klopfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213 (1967).

In re Oliver, 333 U.S. 257 (1948).



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