The news has been flying around the Net all day, so I’m a bit late to this party. The SCOTUS Blog has the best legal summary I’ve seen:
– The Supreme Court has accepted Washington, DC’s appeal in the case District of Columbia v. Heller. Specifcally, they worded the granted issue this way: "Whether the following provisions "” D.C. Code secs. 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?"
– They did not act on a cross-petition of five District residents seeking to join the case. SCOTUS Blog cautions that this is not necessarily a rejection of that cross-petition.
– Left unmentioned by the Court are a whole host of issues that may or may not be decided in this case, including whether the Second Amendment would apply to state and local governments (D.C. is a federal enclave, and that was the reasoning in the D.C. Circuit’s voiding of those three gun laws).
Jim Geraghty wonders whether this would affect the 2008 election. Given the likely timeframe of a March hearing (strongly suggested by SCOTUS Blog) and a June ruling, I would have to say that any ruling would not affect the primaries, specifically the Republican primary, at all, as I expect things to be settled before Wisconsin’s scheduled turn in the “limelight” February 19.
The fact that the Supreme Court has taken the case, however, does have the potential to influence the Republican primaries. Rudy Giuliani, who would be gravely conflicted should the Supreme Court hold the Second Amendment trumps local gun bans, will face a very difficult choice between his lifelong desire to grab guns and his late public professions of support of Constitutionalist Justices. While the side he decides to come down on probably would not cement the nomination if he chooses wisely, it would likely have the effect of ending his chances should he choose poorly.
Similarily, the ruling has the potential to have a major influence on the general election. It will energize both sides of the gun-laws debate, especially whichever side loses. There is a caveat; if Giuliani is the Republican nominee and the Supreme Court sides with the District, that additional energy on the pro-gun side will likely gravitate to a third-party candidate.