Retired Justice John Paul Steven’s recent op-ed calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment shouldn’t have surprised anyone. After all, it was he who wrote the dissent in Citizens United v. FEC. In that decision the majority wrote, “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.” He dissented in Heller v. D.C., the case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Justice Steven’s op-ed contains poor legal reasoning, but, from a Progressive’s historical perspective, correct political reasoning. If judges can’t interpret the Constitution to allow acceptable results, then Progressives will just have to amend it.
Progressives have worked to amend the Constitution when it got in their way in the past. That’s where the Sixteenth (Income Tax) and Seventeenth (Popular Vote Election of Senators) Amendments came from in the early years of the 20th Century. Some conservative commentators are reacting to calls for the repeal of various sections of the Bill of Rights by saying, “Go ahead. Try to get two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states.” Progressives will try, and they’ve been successful in the past. They were almost successful with the Equal Rights Amendment.
There’s a fight on the horizon, and it won’t only be about the Second Amendment.