McDonald v. Chicago: Will the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Apply to the States?

Policy Forum
March 1, 2010 4:00PM
Auditorium/Wintergarden
Featuring Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute; Doug Kendall, Founder and President of the Constitutional Accountability Center; and Timothy Sandefur, Principal Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation. Moderated by Roger Pilon, Vice President for Legal Affairs, Cato Institute.
In 2008, the Supreme Court decided the landmark case of District of Columbia v. Heller, striking down D.C.’s draconian ban on handguns and finding, at last, that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. On March 2, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Court will hear oral arguments on whether that right applies to states and localities. The Court is expected to hold that it does: a key purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified at the height of Reconstruction in 1868, was to allow newly freed slaves and white Unionists to defend themselves against Southern reprisals by protecting their right to keep and bear arms. But will the Court reach that result via the Due Process Clause or the Privileges or Immunities Clause, which was specifically enacted to protect various individual rights, including particularly the right to armed self-defense? The answer is important as a practical matter—because it will help determine the future of gun rights in America—and also as a matter of constitutional law generally, because it could lead to the reinvigoration of a variety of important liberties that courts have long neglected. Please join legal scholars Ilya Shapiro, Timothy Sandefur, and Doug Kendall—each of whom recently published articles on the Privileges or Immunities Clause—for a preview of the arguments before the Court, a discussion of the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms, and reflections on other important developments that may flow from McDonald.