DC Gun Case Cert Grant

The Supreme Court granted cert today in the D.C. gun control case, now styled D.C. v. Heller. As I noted in an earlier post, this is not an unexpected development. One small wrinkle is that the Court took the somewhat unusual step of rewriting the question presented. The cert petition had phrased the question as follows:

Whether the Second Amendment forbids the District of Columbia from banning private possession of handguns while allowing possession of rifles and shotguns.

The Court, in granting cert, reframed the question this way:

Whether the following provisions - D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 - violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?

It's hard to know whether anything important turns on the difference in wording. The Court's question isn't especially one-sided, but it does focus, to an extent that the cert petition's question does not, on the militia issue.

As I expected, the case is already working its way into the 2008 Presidential campaign. Rudy Giuliani's website says of today's grant: "I strongly believe that Judge Silberman’s decision deserves to be upheld by the Supreme Court. The Parker decision is an excellent example of a judge looking to find the meaning of the words in the Constitution, not what he would like them to mean." I couldn't find anything on the case on the Clinton, Obama or Romney sites, but it will be difficult for the candidates to remain silent for long.

Posted by Mike Dorf