SCOTUS on Guns and Gitmo

Posted by Katherine | July 1, 2008 – 2:37 pm
Gun-store sign
[taberandrew / Flickr]

The Supreme Court’s 2007-2008 term just ended with two decisions that are resonating on the campaign trail. Number one: in a Second Amendment case, the Court struck down DC’s handgun ban. Number two: the Court confirmed the habeus corpus rights of Guantanamo prisoners; they can challenge their detention in federal court.

Koan, once a bouncer and Polish choir singer, is now a 28-year-old law student in Chicago. S/he analyzes the political fallout of these decisions for Obama and McCain. On guns:

Obama’s official position on gun control (stashed away in “Sportsmen” under “Additional Issues” on his website) has been consistent: he supports the individual right interpretation but leaves room for restrictions. He did say that he believed the D.C. handgun law was constitutional. McCain, despite his C+ from the NRA and staggering F- from Gun Owners of America, signed the amicus brief on Heller’s behalf and has attacked Obama for flip-flopping on the issue.

Protocol Advantage?: Obama. His position was carefully tailored to blunt the impact of the decision: he knows it’s political poison in these United States to oppose a Second Amendment right to bear arms. The decision will likely cement his support among those who fear a full-on right-wing Court under McCain, but his vaguely moderate gun control position won’t turn off the great middle.

Graffiti of Gitmo detainee
[burgee5000 / Flickr]

And on Gitmo detainees:

McCain responded cautiously at first, but then realized that Boumediene plays directly to his self-portrait as the only candidate serious about the War on “Terror” and called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” […] Obama’s statement supporting the decision hit some strong notes–”this is an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus” […]

Protocol Advantage?: McCain. The hard right, already deeply suspicious of McCain’s conservative bona fides, hates Kennedy and sees Boumediene as an unconscionable act of aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies. In an election where McCain’s success may depend on his ability to turn out the footsoldiers, his promise to appoint more Scalias and Alitos will only seem more vital.

Agree or not with these conclusions, it seems pretty clear that Koan has what it takes to succeed in law school.


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