June 26th, 2008
02:50 PM ET
12 years ago

Blitzer: Court ruling highlights fragile balance

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/03/13/art.blitzer.jpg caption="CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer"]
(CNN) - Once again, the U.S. Supreme Court has reached a 5-4 decision with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the decisive swing vote.

The latest case involves the right to own a handgun in the District of Columbia. In this case, Kennedy went with the conservatives, including Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas. The majority concluded that the D.C. law violated the Second Amendment to the Constitution – the right to bear arms.

But Kennedy sided with the liberals in two other major 5-4 decisions, including Wednesday’s ruling that the death penalty could not apply to child rape victims. Last week, he sided with his liberal colleagues, Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, and John Paul Stevens in concluding that terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention center have certain legal rights to stand trial.

All of which once again underscores the fragile balance of the court and the fact that the next president probably will have an impressive opportunity to change that balance for the next 20 or 30 years.

As I have pointed out before, John McCain says he likes justices like Roberts and Alito. Barack Obama says he likes justices like Ginsburg and Breyer.

This will be a major issue in the election for lots of Democrats and Republicans. The ramifications on a whole host of issues, not just abortion rights for women, are enormous.

Filed under: Supreme Court • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. Catty


    That is quite presumptuous of you to say, last time I checked the election isn't until November.

    And leave it to a liberal to cling to the phrase "do what he says." I guess it's the mindless, socialist mentality.

    June 26, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. bernj

    I'm about as "liberal" as they come on some issues. I'm also very conservative on others. Like Obama, I think these labels actually mean very little as a practical matter. For the most part, I have disagreed with just about every position Scalia has taken on pretty much any issue. Until today. The majority's decision was the right one although I frankly think they could have, and should have, gone even further in protecting the right of individuals to own and possess firearms. The dissents made no real sense at all.

    I am happy that Obama seems to understand that the constitution should mean what it says. Even in DC. Restricting the right of people to possess handguns in their homes is ridiculous. I wish the so-called "liberal" justices would have recognized that fact and not tried to justify a stupid law.

    June 26, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. kilo

    The word "arms" does not directly translate to "handguns."

    Handguns did not exist upon the creation of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

    June 26, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. fafa

    yes GUNS KILL

    June 26, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. JIM...TX

    Lisa...guns don't kill anymore than cars kill. IDIOTS kill in both cases! Thats just what this debate needs...more drama instead of common sense discussions.

    June 26, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Lynette

    I want equal pay for equal work in all 50 states. Women, we will not achieve that during a McCain administration.and McCain loaded Supreme Court.

    All of this madness in our economy is happening under W's watch. We do not need a third W term. Let us stop the madness,

    Obama 2008 and 20012

    June 26, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |



    June 26, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Willy

    Ned to get the other liberals to retire off the bench. McCain08

    June 26, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. Clinton/McCain

    Let's see. Should I vote for someone who might appoint a conservative judge or someone who is friends with terrorists? Hmm.

    June 26, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. Matt-NE

    This is a deciding factor alone in this election.

    We cannot afford to have the most liberal Senator picking the next couple LIFETIME appointments of the Supreme Court!

    We may as well kiss this country goodbye!

    June 26, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Pam

    You Hillary supporters who say you're going to vote for McCain out of spite better think long and hard about the consequences of doing that.

    June 26, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. c. bailey

    So how are we suppose to win this "war on crime" and "this war on drugs" and the new "war on terror" if we keep arming the criminals? So let me get this straight, America which has the highest crime and incarceration rate in the world is still wondering how other countries with lower crime rates and smaller prison populations do it? Somehow, the right to bear arms seems a little out of context from when it was first written.

    North Carolina

    June 26, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Pam

    Obama Supporter from FL June 26th, 2008 4:24 pm ET

    So do knives, Lisa. Should we outlaw those? Cars kill too – are those off the list? What about rope? Someone could hang themselves or another person with rope…

    Knives, cars and rope aren't made for the sole purpose of killing. Guns are.

    June 26, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  14. Seth in Jacksonville, FL

    I'm all for Constitutional rights, but the right to bear arms was relevant when there was not adequate protection in place for Americans. It made sense back then. It doesn't make as much sense now. We now have police and other forms of protection.

    I am not saying guns should be illegal...but there should definitely be rules and limits. The safety of our communities is too important to allow anyone who wants one to go out and buy a handgun. We need LESS guns on the market, not more.

    June 26, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. Marc

    Overturning Roe v. Wade is the first step. I'll also keep my 2nd Amendment rights thank you very much. If we elect this boy, who knows what crazy left-wing nut jobs he'll nominate to the Court. More than any other reason lets say NO to Dr. No.

    June 26, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  16. smgallagher

    Lisa.....I'm sure you can come up with a better argument than that.

    It is people that kill.

    June 26, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. JB

    People need to protect themselves with guns from criminal home intruders. People should have a right to defend themselves.

    June 26, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Chad, Wisco

    Kennedy is the only true judge we currently have. Judges arent supposed to be liberal or conservative, they are supposed to be fair. Any court in any land that is always 4 vs 4 with one person bouncing back and forth does not serve justice. I have to say it but there is a major division in this country and the press the election is getting is only working to drive it deeper. Too bad money controls everything and a good canidate that would truly do what is best for the people can never be elected because big money wont let them.

    June 26, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Jan-- proud American/michigan

    Please vote McCain, people–cost of living will be better as they should be allowed to drill here and drill now –same as all the other countries. I am also pleased that I can keep my gun collection and go to church without being bitter. We really do not know when and on what issues Obama will change his mind on.

    June 26, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. John

    Thank you Bill. That's the only non-recycled thought in this thread.

    Re: some of the comments above: sure knives and cars can kill people, but they have alternative uses. The sole purpose of guns is to kill.

    I don't mind people having the right to bear arms, but there are limits to all rights, which many don't seem to understand.

    June 26, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. bob white

    At last a Supreme Court that isn't packed with constitutional revionists. It's ironic that the cities with the most stringent gun laws are the one with the highest murder rates. Now, if God forbid, the liberal demos take over in Jan. 09 they will try to muster enought votes to repeal the 2nd amendment. Standby to standby!

    June 26, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. Lynn, Missouri

    We already lost our eminent domain to commercial businesses. I hope we don't lose anymore of our constitutional rights. Although a band on semiautomatic guns would be nice, esppecially for the police. I think I like more liberal judges and Sen. Hillary Clinton would make a good one.

    June 26, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    All of you Hillary and McCain Women supporters you should take heed to this article. Especially those with children and is child bearing age!

    A vote for mccain, a write in for hillary or stay at home and not vote, is the vote for your family's future

    June 26, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. Phil, FL

    Way to go Blitzer – baby-steps. One article without shoving HRC down our throats. Maybe if you practice a lot you'll get used to it.

    Ya think?

    June 26, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. JC

    You can take back an insult.
    You can uncurl a fist.
    You can retract a switchblade.

    You can't "unsqueeze" a trigger.

    If responsible gun owners are truly "responsible," why then are our newspapers filled with stories about law abiding citizens dying each day as a result of handgun violence? If guns are so instrumental in protecting lives, as the NRA claims, wouldn't the stories be inverted–countless, heroic tales about law-abiding citizens gunning down villains?

    June 26, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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