Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision strikes down Chicago’s handgun ban. The 5-4 majority said 2nd Amendment Rights must “apply equally to the federal government and the states.” Justice Scalia cited the 14th Amendment’s ever expanding due process clause in support of the majority.
The clause is typically applied to diminish individual liberty by increasing the power of the federal government. But today, Scalia applied it to protect liberty. Paradoxically, a justice more strictly devoted to the Constitution’s original design, before the rise of the incorporation doctrine, would have had to acquiesce to arbitrary and immoral handgun confiscations carried out by state and local governments.
So should paleoconservatives and libertarians welcome the ruling? It depends whether one prioritizes individual liberty or the Constitution. Most of the time, these principles don’t conflict. But cases like today’s remind us they’re not inextricably bound.