Why the Supreme Court Could Not Reject the DC vs Heller Case?

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When the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the decision of the District Court, ruling the decades long gun ban unconstitutional, it put the case on the fast track to the Supreme Court. After their petition for the D.C. Circuit to rehear the case was denied, the city petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case. Both the defendants and the plaintiffs eagerly wanted the Supreme Court to review the case. On November 20, 2007, the Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari for D.C. v. Heller.


The case sparked much controversy and debate between gun-rights and gun-control advocates. Due to the volatile nature of the issue, it was imperative the Supreme Court set a precedent on their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. A substantial number of amicus briefs were filed to voice their support or disdain of the decision by the D.C. Circuit. From the 67 amicus briefs filed, it became clear that the majority supported the lower court’s decision and the individual rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment. 47 of the amicus briefs, which included a majority in Congress, were in favor of the D.C. gun ban to come to an end. In addition to majority congressional support to overturn the ban, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorneys General from the majority of the States agreed. It became clear that a nationwide majority believed the D.C. gun ban was a clear violation of the fundamental right to bear arms outlined in the constitution.  


Although the Supreme Court had not ruled on the 2nd Amendment since the 1930s, it was crucial they make a ruling now. Much like the District of Columbia, a majority of the country’s appeals courts maintained a collective rights view of the 2nd Amendment. The decision by the D.C. Circuit proclaiming an individual right to bear arms, as opposed to a collective right, put the nation on notice. The D.C. gun ban was widely known as the strictest in the country and a Supreme Court ruling to guarantee an individual right to bear arms would prevent any future outright gun ban anywhere in the country.


Had the Supreme Court rejected the D.C. v. Heller case, millions of Americans would be at risk of having the fundamental right to protect themselves taken. The interpretation of the 2nd Amendment would continue to be at the mercy of local and state governments and the lower courts without a firm declaration by the Supreme Court.

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