The Supreme Court says that Americans have the right to own firearms to protect themselves and their homes.
The Second Amendment still lives, but only because the Supreme Court says that it does. This decision was five votes to four. Had Bill Clinton gotten another appointment to the Supreme Court, or if Justice Kennedy had decided to be liberal this morning, the District of Columbia could have quite legally banned ownership of handguns or any other type of weapon, whatever the Constitution says.
As it often is, yesterday at the Supreme Court was very different. Yesterday we learned that the Constitution says that the State of Louisiana could not put to death a 43 year old man who raped his 8 year old step-daughter. Too bad that the people of the State of Louisiana elected a legislature that decided that raping a child should be punishable by death. But the Supreme Court -- by five votes to four (Kennedy siding with the liberals)-- said that the Louisiana legislation violates the Constitution's ban (the Eighth Amendment) on "cruel and unusual punishment."
Now, it is a bit difficult for me to credit that the drafters of the 8th Amendment (in 1791) would have considered that hanging a 43 year old man who raped an 8 year old child by the neck until he was dead, dead, dead (or whatever they do in Louisiana) was "cruel and unusual punishment." But nobody cares what the Framers thought. The Constitution is what the Nine Kings say it is, today, and the Court's majority claims to have identified a "national consensus" that the death penalty is never acceptable for the rape of a child.
More particularly, the Constitution is what today's swing justice -- Justice Kennedy -- says it is. Sure, I liked today's decision on the right to keep and bear arms, and disapprove of yesterday's decision on cruel and unusual punishment. But is this law or politics? Today, Justice Kennedy says that the Second Amendment means we have the right to own firearms; and that the Eighth Amendment says it's cruel to kill child rapists. Recently, Justice Kennedy educated the generals and bureaucrats on their obligations while running a war. Whatever the law is today, don't hold your breath, because tomorrow, Justice Kennedy may well think differently -- and the law will thus think differently also.
This is not government by law. This is not a republic. It isn't even a monarchy. This is government by whim of a robed clerisy who rule over us not because of election, but because they went to elite law schools. Instead of a republic, we are ruled by a theocracy of judges primarily concerned with increasing their own collective power.
In any society with a written Constitution, or that conducts itself based on written laws, it is necessary to have a court, or an entity, that can tell us what the law means. This is the purpose of judicial review in our system, and the Supreme Court is the last stop. But the tail is now wagging the dog. The Supreme Court enjoys construing the Constitution too much, does it too often, and has become a clear and present danger to republican institutions.