Supreme Court Dooms Chicago Gun Ban; Obama Judicial Nominees Oppose Gun Rights; Religious Clubs Lose First Amendment Case; Removal of High-Ranking Bureaucrats Made Easier

The Supreme Court doomed Chicago’s handgun ban Monday by ruling 5-to-4 that the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments like Chicago, not merely the federal government.  (Most guarantees in the Bill of Rights are deemed so fundamental that they apply to both state and federal governments, but a few rights deemed trivial, like the right to a jury trial in lawsuits seeking over $20, only are applied by the Courts to the federal government, not the states.)  In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the individual right to possess a handgun in a federal enclave, in striking down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., in District of Columbia v. Heller.  Chicago’s ban is quite similar to the one found unconstitutional in Washington, D.C., so the Supreme Court’s ruling Monday in McDonald v. City of Chicago dooms Chicago’s gun ban.

In 2009, President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, claimed before her confirmation to accept the Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller as binding precedent.  But on Monday, she joined a dissent by the Supreme Court’s four liberal justices calling for the Heller decision to be overruled.  Second Amendment scholar David Kopel says that Sotomayor was not candid, noting that her opinion “contradicted” what she told the Senate before the Senate confirmed her to the Supreme Court.  It is likely that future liberal Supreme Court nominees will pretend to support gun rights until they are confirmed, then vote against such rights once on the Court.

Obama’s current Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, lumped the NRA together with the KKK as “bad guy orgs” while serving in the Clinton administration, suggesting that she will consistently rule against gun owners if her nomination is approved by the Senate.  Kagan failed to defend federal laws protecting crime victims while serving as Solicitor General.

As a Harvard dean, Kagan blocked the military from recruiting, in defiance of a federal law requiring access for military recruiters.  Kagan claimed her opposition was based on the military’s exclusion of openly-gay soldiers, not hostility to the military in general, but this is hard to square with the fact that she had no problem letting the Saudis sponsor an Islamic studies program at Harvard Law School, even though the Saudis flog and execute gay people, and she had no problem serving in the Clinton administration, even though Clinton signed into law both the restrictions on gays in the military she claimed to object to (the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy), and the ban on federal recognition of gay marriages contained in DOMA.

The Supreme Court Monday also ruled that religious clubs can be forced by colleges to admit atheists and others who disagree with the club’s religious perspective as members, as long as the college requires this as part of a general policy of banning clubs from discriminating based on any characteristic.  The Supreme Court’s four “conservative” justices dissented against this ruling limiting the First Amendment’s freedom of association, while moderate Anthony Kennedy joined the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc in ruling against the religious clubs in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.

In Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 ruling, cut back on restrictions on the ability to remove high-ranking bureaucrats, ruling that provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley law that kept anyone from removing members of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board except for willful misconduct unconstitutionally infringed on the constitutional separation of powers, which requires that important government employees be subject to some degree of accountability to higher-ups in the executive branch.  However, the Supreme Court left intact the bulk of the Sarbanes-Oxley law.  The red tape adopted by bureaucrats under Sarbanes-Oxley has driven many IPOs and American jobs overseas.  The red tape costs the economy $35 billion a year, according to the American Electronics Association, and it did nothing to prevent the mortgage meltdown, Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion fraud, or the faulty valuation of sub-prime mortgage-backed securities that helped spawn the financial crisis.

The Supreme Court overturned a ruling that allowed business methods to be treated as exclusive property under the patent laws, but did not definitively rule out the patenting of business methods, in Bilski v. Kappos.