On June 23, the Supreme Court ruled 6 to 3 to strike down New York’s law restricting the right of individuals to carry firearms outside of the home, expanding the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms to American public life. The Second Amendment, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority, protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” Here, Stanford Law School’s John Donohue, an expert in gun law, discusses the decision.
When I was asked to comment on the leak of today’s opinion back in May, I said it would be a constitutional earthquake if the final opinion followed the draft. Today’s decision is indeed seismic, closely tracking the draft and laying waste to a half-century of constitutional law protecting a woman’s right to control her body and to make a profound decision affecting the course of her life. In a sweeping opinion, that right is gone and it is now up to state legislators to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies and, if a majority of those legislators deem it appropriate, to force them to continue unwanted pregnancies.