If you were to run down a list of hot-button issues which inflame the electorate on both sides, gun control would be near the top. The majority of the population favors stricter laws according to most polls, but those who are against new restrictions are much more vocal. Only 10% of the population favors weakening restrictions.
Given this, it may come as a surprise that in recent years laws regulating gun sales and ownership have become considerably less restrictive. This is due to a combination of reasons that start with a large Republican control of 30 state legislatures. Ultimately, however, the main driving force is a Supreme Court ruling which stated that the Second Amendment deals with individual, not militia rights.
The Supreme Court has released a number of opinions, and it’s been a tough week for conservatives. Most of the focus has been on the big political fights – federal subsidy for state “Obamacare” exchanges was upheld and marriage equity is the law of the land in all fifty states. It was the latter that gave us the most blistering dissent from Justice Scalia:
“A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy,” he wrote in one of the more coherent statements in his dissent.
But another ruling, striking down part of the Federal “Three Strikes” law, illustrates judicial activism even more clearly. All of this begs the question as to where Scalia’s logic was in the “Citizens United” ruling in 2012 that declared corporations to be people, too. There is judicial activism, yes, but it’s more about filling in the gaps left by years of a completely dysfunctional Congress. Someone has to be the adults – even one branch of government has to endure Scalia’s sometimes childish ranting.
Normally, Barataria takes up a hot news story after the mainstream press has released its authoritative take on the subject and social media has frothed over it for a while. Not the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision. I have to admit, I’m confused by this decision because it seems to be incredibly vast in its potential scope, a position echoed by Justice Ginsburg in her dissent. That dissent even became a song as people around the ‘net struggle to make sense of this.
If there has been a legal earthquake, it will do what upheaval and disaster always do – highlight how everything has changed and eventually demand systemic responses. This decision, if nothing else, shows how utterly ridiculous it is to have the cost of health care foisted onto businesses in the first place. Beyond that …. it’s hard to tell just what it means.