Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Washington, D.C.'s ban on handguns is unconstitutional. Today the nation's best-known liberal and conservative editorial pages weighed in. After the jump, read what they said and tell us what you think...
The Wall Street Journal agrees with Justice Scalia's majority opinion, and criticizes the minority:
These are the same four liberal Justices who routinely invoke the "right to privacy" -- which is nowhere in the text of the Constitution -- as a justification for asserting various social rights. Yet in his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argues that a right to bear arms that is plainly in the text adheres to an individual only if he is sanctioned by government...He wants to establish an "interest-balancing test" to weigh the Constitutionality of particular restrictions on gun ownership...But as Justice Scalia writes, no other Constitutional right is subjected to this sort of interest-balancing. "The very enumeration of the right takes [it] out of the hands of government" -- even the hands of Olympian judges like Stephen Breyer. "Like the First, [the Second Amendment] is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people -- which Justice Breyer would now conduct for them anew." In that one sentence, Justice Scalia illuminates a main fault line on this current Supreme Court.
Meanwhile the New York Times blasted the court's decision:
In a radical break from 70 years of Supreme Court precedent, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, declared that the Second Amendment guarantees individuals the right to bear arms for nonmilitary uses, even though the amendment clearly links the right to service in a "militia." The ruling will give gun-rights advocates a powerful new legal tool to try to strike down gun-control laws across the nation. This is a decision that will cost innocent lives, cause immeasurable pain and suffering and turn America into a more dangerous country...In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens was right when he said that the court has now established "a new constitutional right" that creates a "dramatic upheaval in the law." Even if there were a constitutional right to possess guns for nonmilitary uses, constitutional rights are not absolute. The First Amendment guarantees free speech, but that does not mean that laws cannot prohibit some spoken words, like threats to commit imminent violent acts. In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer argued soundly that whatever right gun owners have to unimpeded gun use is outweighed by the District of Columbia's "compelling" public-safety interests...This audaciously harmful decision, which hands the far right a victory it has sought for decades, is a powerful reminder of why voters need to have the Supreme Court firmly in mind when they vote for the president this fall.
So what do you think?