The New York Times

A Call to Arms at the Supreme Court


A specter is haunting the Supreme Court — disrespect for the Second Amendment. Perhaps you haven’t realized that the Supreme Court’s disinclination to expand on its landmark 2008 decision creating an individual right to gun ownership means that the justices are treating the Second Amendment as a “second-class right.” A “watered-down right.” A “disfavored right.”

If you are unaware of these outlandish claims, then you haven’t tuned into the rising chorus of judicial voices demanding more from the Supreme Court than gun fanciers already won in that intensely disputed 5-4 decision a decade ago, District of Columbia v. Heller.

Why is this happening, and why now? To understand why the “second-class right” meme is suddenly penetrating the judicial conversation, we have to begin with Justice Clarence Thomas. He is not the first member of the current Supreme Court to use the phrase; Justice Samuel Alito Jr. used it in his 2010 opinion that extended the analysis of the Heller decision, which had applied only to Washington, D.C., as a federal enclave, to the states. The court was being asked, Alito wrote in , “to treat the right recognized in Heller

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