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McDonald v. City of Chicago

(2010)

Supreme Court of the United States - 561 U.S. 742

tl;dr:

The Second Amendment is a fundamental right incorporated against the states.

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for McDonald v. City of Chicago

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Facts & HoldingMcDonald v. City of Chicago case brief facts & holding

Facts:Chicago has some of the highest crime rates in the...

Holding:To determine if the right to keep & bear arms...

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McDonald v. City of Chicago | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Justice Alito
Level 1
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The Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms for self-defense applies to the States, making handgun possession bans in Chicago and Oak Park unconstitutional. The Court adopted a "selective incorporation" approach, where the Due Process Clause fully incorporates specific rights in the first eight Amendments. The right to keep and bear arms for self-defense is a fundamental right protected against state infringement by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment protected the right of all citizens, including freedmen, to keep and bear arms. The right to bear arms is a substantive guarantee recognized and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and is a fundamental right deserving of protection. Municipal respondents cannot treat this right as a second-class right subject to different rules than other Bill of Rights guarantees incorporated into the Due Process Clause. Incorporation of the Second Amendment into the States and their subdivisions does not imperil every law regulating firearms, and the historical understanding of the Fourteenth Amendment does not restrict the authority of States to regulate firearms.

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Opinion (Concurrence), author: Justice Scalia
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Justice Scalia concurs with the Court's opinion but disagrees with Justice Stevens' approach to substantive due process. He argues that Justice Stevens' subjective standard for updating the Due Process Clause insults the democratic process and lacks meaningful limitations on judicial discretion. Justice Scalia also criticizes Justice Stevens' assertion that only nonambivalent liberties deserve due process protection and his argument that the Second Amendment right is not fundamental. He believes that judges have no comparative advantage in resolving moral disputes, and Justice Stevens' approach would multiply the hard questions courts must confront. Justice Scalia disagrees with Justice Stevens' argument that the right to keep and bear arms should not be incorporated because it is a "federalism provision," arguing that this argument lacks consistency.

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Opinion (Concurrence), author: Justice Thomas
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This legal case discusses the application of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms to the States. The Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment made the Bill of Rights applicable to the States, including the right to keep and bear arms. The Privileges or Immunities Clause in §1 of the Constitution protects the inalienable rights of citizens, including individual rights enumerated in the Constitution, such as the right to keep and bear arms. The Slaughter-House Cases limited the Clause's protection to only a few rights of federal citizenship, excluding constitutionally enumerated rights. The author argues that the privileges and immunities of state and federal citizenship overlap, but they are not the same. The dissenting Justices in Slaughter-House believed that the Clause protected unenumerated rights, but this case does not involve such a right. Justice Thomas argues that the Privileges or Immunities Clause, not the Due Process Clause, is the appropriate means of enforcing the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Justice Stevens
Level 1
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The legal case involved a challenge to the constitutionality of Chicago's handgun ban, which was rejected by the Court. The Court's "selective incorporation" doctrine is a subset of substantive due process, and the Constitution allows for local differences in the exercise of police power by the States. The Supreme Court has moved away from the "jot-for-jot" incorporation approach and now requires perfect state/federal congruence only on matters "at the core" of the relevant constitutional guarantee. The Court has established a framework for decision-making in substantive due process analysis, which requires considering the term "liberty" in the Fourteenth Amendment, informed by but not dependent upon the content of the Bill of Rights. The Court must determine whether the allegedly unlawful practice violates values that are implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. The rights embraced by the liberty clause transcend the local and the particular, and are universal in character. The Court has made errors in interpreting Palko and Duncan, and recent decisions confirm that substantive due process analysis should not be solely based on history and tradition. The Court has consistently taken a liberty-based approach to substantive interests outside of the adjudicatory system.

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Dissenting opinion, author: Justice Breyer
Level 1
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The Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller established an individual's right to bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment, but three Justices dissented, arguing that the right is not fundamental and endangers others. The dissenting opinion suggests that the Court should reconsider the decision in light of more recent historical views and consider other factors, such as the underlying values of a constitutional provision and their contemporary significance. The author argues that judges lack the expertise to make empirically based decisions regarding gun regulation and that legislators are better equipped to understand relevant facts. The passage emphasizes the need for a nuanced approach to interpreting constitutional provisions and highlights the importance of legislators in determining the constitutionality of state gun laws.

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