Has there ever been a Supreme Court justice quite as crazy as Scalia? Maybe. Has there ever been one that just sort of made it up as he went along quite like Scalia does? I really rather doubt it. Yet the man truly thinks he has some mysterious power to get into the heads of the mostly reasonable founders and extract insanity therefrom. Now he pronounces from on high that the founders quite obviously intended that the right to bear arms means one has the right to bear any arm that a single person could carry:
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Sunday said that even “handheld rocket launchers” could be considered legal under his interpretation of the Constitution’s Second Amendment.
In the wake of a massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, host Chris Wallace asked Scalia if the Constitution would support assault-type AR-15 rifles and 100-round clips.
The justice explained that under his principle of originalism, some limitations on weapons were possible. Fox example, laws to restrict people from carrying a “head axe” would be constitutional because it was a misdemeanor when the Constitution was adopted in the late 1700s.
“What about these technological limitations?” Wallace wondered. “Obviously, we’re not now talking about a handgun or a musket, we’re talking about a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute.”
“We’ll see,” Scalia replied. “Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that can not be carried. It’s to ‘keep and bear’ so it doesn’t apply to cannons.”
“But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to — it will have to be decided,” he added.
It is not immediately clear why cannons are excluded. Perhaps Scalia is actually attempting to be intellectually consistent (a first for him), for, having read the introductory clause out of the amendment, he can’t use it to justify the right to bear cannons. For, in fact, some well-regulated militia did have cannons.
I won’t belabor the almost obvious point that this “originalist” school of legal “thinking” is merely a cover for reactionary, almost precedent free decision making. Hamilton and Madison joined together on the Federalist Papers and then never agreed again. They were both original, but which do we follow? Scalia opts to follow neither, for neither of them was so insane as to even consider sanctioning a right for any individual to acquire a rocket launcher, just because it could be carried. By Scalia’s logic, I guess if you can fit an a-bomb in a suitcase, everyone has a right to have one.
But I’m intrigued. I didn't know it was a misdemeanor in those far ago days to carry a head ax, whatever that is. Isn’t the obvious lesson that the founding generation was perfectly comfortable with regulating the private ownership of weapons, or is there some implied distinction between firearms and other, less destructive arms, that those of us who can read only English can’t see?