McDonald v. Chicago

McDonald v. Chicago

Discussion
Ask a question about 'McDonald v. Chicago'
Start a new discussion about 'McDonald v. Chicago'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 3025, 130 S.Ct. 3020 (2010), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 that determined whether the Second Amendment applies to the individual states. The Court held that the right of an individual to "keep and bear arms" protected by the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 and applies to the states. The decision cleared up the uncertainty left in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller
District of Columbia v. Heller
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 , was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes in federal enclaves, such as...

 as to the scope of gun rights in regard to the states.

On June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit's decision in McDonald v. Chicago and remanded it back to Seventh Circuit to resolve conflicts between certain Chicago gun restrictions and the Second Amendment
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

. The Court of Appeals had upheld a Chicago ordinance banning the possession of handguns as well as other gun regulations affecting rifles and shotguns, citing United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment.-Background:On Easter...

, Presser v. Illinois
Presser v. Illinois
Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 , was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States holding that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution limited only the power of Congress and the national government to control firearms, not that of the state.-Background:In this 1886 case,...

, and Miller v. Texas. The petition for certiorari was filed by Alan Gura
Alan Gura
Alan Gura is an American litigator practicing in the areas of civil litigation, intellectual property, and civil rights law at Gura & Possessky, P.L.L.C....

, the attorney who had successfully argued Heller, and Chicago-area attorney David G. Sigale. The Second Amendment Foundation
Second Amendment Foundation
The Second Amendment Foundation or SAF is an educational- and legal-defense organization which describes its mission as “promoting a better understanding about our constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms...

 and the Illinois State Rifle Association sponsored the litigation on behalf of several Chicago residents, including retiree Otis McDonald.

The Second Oral argument took place on March 2, 2010. On June 28, 2010, in a 5-4 decision, the High Court held that the Second Amendment
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

 was incorporated under the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, protecting those rights from local governments.

McDonald v. Chicago as compared to NRA v. Chicago


Despite being consolidated at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, the cases are different in scope in terms of the specific regulations challenged and the legal argument for applying the Second Amendment against state and local governments. The cases were appealed separately to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Regulations challenged


The NRA case is focused on the fact that Chicago's gun registration laws do not allow the registration of handguns. In the District of Columbia v. Heller
District of Columbia v. Heller
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 , was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes in federal enclaves, such as...

, "The Court also recognized a distinction between weapons "in common use at the time" and weapons that were considered dangerous and unusual..."

McDonald challenges four broad aspects of Chicago's gun registration law, which, according to the plaintiffs:
  • Prohibit the registration of handguns, thus effecting a broad handgun ban
  • Require that guns be registered prior to their acquisition by Chicago residents, which is not always feasible
  • Mandate that guns be re-registered annually, with another payment of the fee
  • Render any gun permanently non-registrable if its registration lapses

Legal basis for incorporation


All of the post-Heller cases, including McDonald, NRA v. Chicago, Nordyke and Maloney, argued that the Second Amendment, in addition to applying to federal jurisdictions, should also be applied against state and local governments, using a judicial process called selective incorporation
Incorporation (Bill of Rights)
The incorporation of the Bill of Rights is the process by which American courts have applied portions of the U.S. Bill of Rights to the states. Prior to the 1890s, the Bill of Rights was held only to apply to the federal government...

. Selective incorporation involves convincing the court that a right is "fundamental" by being “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” or “deeply rooted in our nation’s history and traditions” as defined most recently in the Supreme Court case Duncan v. Louisiana
Duncan v. Louisiana
Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145 , was a significant United States Supreme Court decision which incorporated the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial and applied it to the states.-Background of the case:...

, .

In addition to claiming the Second Amendment should be incorporated through the selective incorporation process, McDonald is unique among post-Heller gun cases in that it asked the court to overturn the Slaughter-House Cases, . Slaughter-House determined that the 14th Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause
Privileges or Immunities Clause
The Privileges or Immunities Clause is Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. It states:Along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, this clause became part of the Constitution on July 9, 1868....

 did not apply the Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

 to the actions of states (and by extension, local governments). If it had been overturned, the Selective Incorporation process may have become unnecessary, since the entire Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, would arguably be applied against the states.

In attempting to overturn Slaughter-House, this case garnered the attention and support of both conservative and liberal legal scholars interested in its potential application in areas outside of firearms law. Their interest was that if Slaughter-House had been overturned, it would have been possible that constitutional guarantees such as the right to a jury in civil cases, right to a grand jury in felony cases, and other parts of the Bill of Rights, as well as future court rulings and existing federal precedent, not universally guaranteed in actions by the states, would have been applied against the states automatically.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas
Clarence Thomas
Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Succeeding Thurgood Marshall, Thomas is the second African American to serve on the Court....

 alone supported overturning the Slaughter-House and Cruikshank decisions, proposing that "the right to keep and bear arms is a privilege of American citizenship that applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause
Privileges or Immunities Clause
The Privileges or Immunities Clause is Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. It states:Along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, this clause became part of the Constitution on July 9, 1868....

."

Amici curiae


Thirty-three amici curiae ("friends of the court") briefs for this case were filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.

One of these briefs was filed by U.S. senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R, TX) and Jon Tester
Jon Tester
Jon Tester is the junior U.S. Senator for Montana, serving since 2007. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served as President of the Montana Senate.-Early life, education, and farming career:...

 (D, MT) and U.S. representatives Mark Souder
Mark Souder
Mark Edward Souder is an American Republican politician who was a U.S. Representative from Indiana from 1995 to 2010.During the 1980s and early 1990s, he worked as a congressional aide to Dan Coats and committee staff director. He was elected to his congressional seat in 1994...

 (R, IN) and Mike Ross (D, AR) asking the Supreme Court to find in favor of the petitioners and rule that the Second Amendment does apply to the states. The brief was signed by 58 senators and 251 representatives, more members of Congress than any amicus curiae brief in history. Furthermore, thirty-two states under the aegis of Texas (and California independently) also filed amici curiae.

Decision


In a plurality decision, Justice Alito
Samuel Alito
Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and has served on the court since January 31, 2006....

 concluded "that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 incorporates the Second Amendment
Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.In 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court issued two Second...

 right recognized in Heller." Writing a concurring opinion, Justice Thomas reached the same conclusion regarding the incorporation issue on different grounds: Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Privileges or Immunities Clause
The Privileges or Immunities Clause is Amendment XIV, Section 1, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution. It states:Along with the rest of the Fourteenth Amendment, this clause became part of the Constitution on July 9, 1868....

. The plurality decision also re-affirmed that certain firearms restrictions mentioned in District of Columbia v. Heller
District of Columbia v. Heller
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 , was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes in federal enclaves, such as...

 are assumed permissible and not directly dealt with in this case.
Such restrictions include those "prohibit[ing]...the possession of firearms by felons or mentally ill," and "laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms"

Dissents


Justice Stevens wrote a lengthy dissenting opinion. Among his disagreements with the majority was the statement that incorporation was not at issue in this case. Citing Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank
United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment.-Background:On Easter...

, Stevens wrote, "The so-called incorporation question was squarely and, in my view, correctly resolved in the late 19th century." In addition, he argues against incorporation, taking issue with the methodology of the majority opinions.

Justice Breyers' dissent states, "In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense. There has been, and is, no consensus that the right is, or was, “fundamental.” This statement is somewhat contradictory to the Heller decision.

Reception


The initial reactions of the Court's ruling were favorable from both the National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association
The National Rifle Association of America is an American non-profit 501 civil rights organization which advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection...

 and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
Brady Campaign
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence are affiliated non-profit organizations in the United States. They are named after James Brady who was permanently disabled as a result of an assassination attempt on U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1981...

. Both issued statements to the public that they feel were vindicated by the Court's holding. However, the court did not include a "clarification of the standard for review" as requested by the Brady group in their amicus brief. In a discussion on the day of the ruling Wayne LaPierre of the NRA and Paul Helmke of the Brady Center both agreed that the Court's ruling protected specifically against bans on handguns for self protection in the home. But as to the general question of gun laws not covered in McDonald; a large number of lawsuits are needed in order to determine whether any other existing gun regulations might also be unconstitutional. Wayne LaPierre expressed caution that the NRA has "a lot of work ahead" attempting to overturn other gun control regulations not covered by McDonald, and Paul Helmke said that he expected that the NRA is "going to lose most of those lawsuits".

Related cases


The day after Heller was filed the National Rifle Association
National Rifle Association
The National Rifle Association of America is an American non-profit 501 civil rights organization which advocates for the protection of the Second Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights and the promotion of firearm ownership rights as well as marksmanship, firearm safety, and the protection...

 filed five similar lawsuits challenging local gun bans:
  • Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority
    Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority
    Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority is a lawsuit filed by the National Rifle Association the day after the United States Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a...

  • Three unnamed suits against the Chicago suburbs of Evanston
    Evanston, Illinois
    Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

    , Morton Grove
    Morton Grove, Illinois
    Morton Grove is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 22,451 at the 2000 census.The Village President of Morton Grove since April 27, 2009, is Daniel J...

     and Oak Park
    Oak Park, Illinois
    Oak Park, Illinois is a suburb bordering the west side of the city of Chicago in Cook County, Illinois, United States. It is the twenty-fifth largest municipality in Illinois. Oak Park has easy access to downtown Chicago due to public transportation such as the Chicago 'L' Blue and Green lines,...

  • NRA v. Chicago - eventually merged with this case


Other notable post-Heller Second Amendment court cases:
  • Nordyke v. King
    Nordyke v. King
    Nordyke v. King, 563 F. 3d 439 , is a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in which a ban of firearms on all public property and whether the Second Amendment should be applied to the state and local governments is to be decided.-Background:The Board of Supervisors of...

    , Held that the 2nd Amendment did apply to the states in the Ninth Circuit, though the ruling was vacated for en banc
    En banc
    En banc, in banc, in banco or in bank is a French term used to refer to the hearing of a legal case where all judges of a court will hear the case , rather than a panel of them. It is often used for unusually complex cases or cases considered to be of greater importance...

     reconsideration, and the Alameda County, California
    Alameda County, California
    Alameda County is a county in the U.S. state of California. It occupies most of the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 1,510,271, making it the 7th most populous county in the state...

     prohibition of firearms on county property remained constitutional until overturned by McDonald v. Chicago.
  • Maloney v. Rice (a.k.a. Maloney v. Cuomo and Maloney v. Spitzer), Held that the 2nd Amendment does not apply to the states in the Second Circuit. The case involved a state ban on Nunchaku
    Nunchaku
    is a traditional Okinawan weapon consisting of two sticks connected at their ends with a short chain or rope.-Etymology:The Japanese word nunchaku is the Kun'yomi reading of the Kanji term for a traditional Chinese two section staff....

     sticks (a martial arts weapon). In a memorandum opinion dated June 29, 2010, the Supreme Court vacated the Second Circuit decision in Maloney and remanded for further consideration in light of McDonald's holding that the Second Amendment does apply to the states.
  • State of Washington v. Sieyes The Washington Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment is incorporated and applies to Washington State, via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Superseded by, but consistent with, McDonald.
  • The Commonwealth V. Runyan, 456 Mass. 230 (2010) The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that Heller did not apply to the Massachusetts state legislature and that the gun locks ordered under Massachusetts law are different from those regulated in Heller. Partially overturned by McDonald; The decisions made in Heller do apply to the State of Massachusetts (as with all States), but the gun lock requisite under MA law may indeed differ enough from D.C.'s statute to be found constitutional.

In Ezell v. Chicago, decided July 6, 2011, the Seventh Circuit reversed a district court decision that the post-McDonald measures adopted by the City of Chicago were constitutional. The Chicago law required firearms training in a shooting range in order to obtain a gun permit, but also banned shooting ranges within the City of Chicago. The City had argued that applicants could obtain their training at gun ranges in the suburbs. The opinion noted that Chicago could not infringe Second Amendment rights on the grounds that they could be exercised elsewhere, any more than it could infringe the right to freedom of speech on the grounds that citizens could speak elsewhere.

See also


External links