Thursday, November 29, 2007

But What About Bringing A Gun To The Town Meeting?

The Widget:

Court: First Circuit
Judge: Lynch
Subject: Town Meetings
Tone: Dismissive
Importance: 6.1

There was a scintillating sequence during last night’s controversial YouTube debate among the Republicans running for President. One of the questioners asked that the various candidates compare the size of their respective sexual organs with those of their competitors.

What? The question was about how many and what types of guns they owned? Either way, get ready for a lot more gun-related questions as the U.S. Supreme Court contemplates the Heller case. It’s the sexiest case of this term, the one in which the justices will determine whether people have an individual right to keep guns in their homes.

But even if the gun owners win the Heller case – and they almost definitely will – they should keep in mind that Courts have profoundly limited the manner in which we exercise even our most precious individual rights. Take today’s fascinating decision in Curnin v. Town of Egremont, 1st Cir. No. 07-1786, as Exhibit A.

The case involves the free speech of rights of non-residents at a classic New England town meeting. And guess what? Non-residents have no such rights. Why? Because “[n]on-legislators have no First Amendment right to address sessions of deliberating legislative bodies.” Really?

Really. And the First Circuit cites a Supreme Court decision supporting this view of the law. That’s a big limit on the exercise of First Amendment rights, no?

Some Second Amendment enthusiasts just might consider canceling those Stinger missile orders they placed after the Supreme Court agreed to review the Heller case. Unless, of course, the Supreme Court adopts a more expansive view of Second Amendment rights than First Amendment rights. Which would be shocking.

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