December 13, 2012

JAMES TARANTO: A Civil Rights Victory In Obama’s Home State.

Barack Obama’s Chicago has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. According to NeighborhoodScout.com, the Windy City has 55 violent crimes a year for every thousand residents, giving it just a 6 on a 100-point safety scale. One reason is that Illinois is the only state in America that has an absolute prohibition on carrying a concealed firearm for self-defense.

But that’s about to change, thanks to a ruling by a three-judge panel of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In Moore v. Madigan, the judges gave the Legislature in Springfield 180 days “to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment . . ., on the carrying of guns in public.” . . .

Although this seems to be a no-brainer, it was only a 2-1 decision. Judge Ann Williams, a Clinton appointee, dissented. But then McDonald was a 5-4 decision at the Supreme Court; and, as we noted in July, Obama nominee Sonia Sotomayor was among the dissenters, despite having declared during her confirmation hearings that “I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller.” Obama’s other high court appointee, Justice Elena Kagan, hasn’t yet weighed in on the subject, but it will surprise nobody if she too turns out to be on the side of treating the Second Amendment as if it were a nullity.

The president has been careful to avoid direct attacks on gun rights. But if he gets to replace just one of the five justices who made up the Heller and McDonald majorities, Second Amendment jurisprudence is likely to be strangled in its crib.

Two of those justices, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, will be octogenarians by the time Obama’s second term ends. If they outlast him, our constitutional liberties will have dodged a bullet.

Indeed.