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. GA American

    Exactly... It's people that kill!!!!!

    June 26, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Phil, FL

    Uh Oh – I forgot – it's now "McCNN".

    Don't do it Blitzer – just don't even do it. We are sick of him too. He's boring and can't even read 5 days a week.

    June 26, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Bill C.

    So it's judicial activism when a court strikes down a law for being unconstitutional, unless it's the second amendment?

    I think I agree with the court's decision, but the right wing is not really following their own principles.

    June 26, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Cody

    Just so you all know, ANWR isn't worth drilling because there's only 4 months worth of oil up there anyway...

    June 26, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. Kevin in Dallas

    Does anyone else find it ironic that the very same group of people who are complaining about government corruption and oppression are trying to do away with the very rights that could rid us of that corruption and oppression, if need be?

    June 26, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Renee' McDuffie

    I agree with Senator Obama. John McSain & Ralp Nader just need to quit whinning. Anything in the wrong hands is dangerous. I agree with Lisa maybe we should ban cars, knives, ropes. If we ban cars then we would not need the Saudi's oil. Good thought Lisa.

    June 26, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  7. Can we just be American?

    It is our right as Americans to arm ourselves with guns if that is the choice. Tell Americans they can not have guns then only the law abiding people will be without; and the crimminals will be the only ones with guns. I think that is wrong.

    The beauty of our country is if you choose not to have a gun – that is your choice. God Bless America!

    June 26, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. Matt in Indy

    Some of these comments make my head hurt. You people really just blindly follow whatever Obama tells you. If he criticizes McCain, he must be right! (sarcasm)

    And the people crying about the gun decision need to wake up and realize that criminals would have guns regardless of a gun ban or not.

    Also, the Supreme Court justices just vote along their own liberal or conservative belief lines almost 100% of the time. How is Obama going to make it more fair? We have 4 conservatives, 4 liberals, and 1 moderate. I would say that's pretty fair.

    June 26, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Matt in Indy

    It makes me sick to think that some of you people are allowed to vote for the president when you truly have no idea what you're talking about.

    The most intelligent of us all can admit that they know nothing. Don't make yourselves look dumber by typing nonsense drivel.

    June 26, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    Let's see – Guns and child rape!! Meanwhile let us insure the TERRORISTS are treated in a long judicious manner!!
    It speaks volumes of judges who live in a black robed fantasy existence and have little understanding of life on your streets or the need to update a Constitution amendment that is out of touch with modern day reality!! God SAVE America!!

    June 26, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Tejano

    yes, Scott ,Charlote WE DO. Judges decide the law not make law as they please. The 2nd Amendment is there for a reason. and the Judges on this court made that decision on what the founding father's had in mind. :The People have the right to own and bear arms. Try reading it for once, before you comment. It is about time the court decided on law and no popular opinion or whatever suits the Socialists/liberals in America.

    June 26, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Proud American

    Choose wisely America. No McCain!!!!

    June 26, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. Dave from Menifee

    Let's get rid of all of them and appoint new judges that has no political agendas. This is a mess if anything it should been 9 to 0 vote. Not that I love guns I truely believe that the 2nd amendment is right.

    June 26, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. jon

    Yes, I do want a more conservative court. To think that they were one vote away from making it permanently impossible for people in the war zone that is our nation's capital to protect themselves with a handgun. And look who voted on the side of giant corporations in Kelo v. new london, where they allowed the government to take someone's land and give it to a giant pharmaceutical company. It was the "liberals." People need to look past Roe v. Wade and realize how much a "liberal" supreme court is screwing things up. Ending Roe v. Wade would simply allow states to regulate abortion. In other words, democracy, rather than judicial dictatorship. What a novel idea.

    June 26, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  15. DJ, Los Angeles

    It's not about "liberal" vs "conservative" judges. Just boils down to defending the constitution and civil liberties. That's why Kennedy sided no death penalty for rapists and right to trial for Guantamo prisoners.

    The Supreme Court voted fairly in each instance on the side of rights and justice.

    June 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. Jo

    I was and am a Senator Hillary Clinton supporter. I will be voting for Barack Obama in November. I will vote for him regardless of who is the vice-presidential candidate. I am still convinced that Senator Clinton was the best candidate but I will support the democratic nominees.

    Senator Obama should choose Senator Clinton to be the vp candidate because she brings to the table a diverse support group which Obama has failed to connect with significantly. He should pick her because she has proven that she is a very capable leader and also that she could be a good president. He should pick her because she is strong and determined and not afraid to face controversy which is exactly what you need in a candidate and a vp. He should pick her because she immediately gives him more gravitas and because she can give him some inroads in some of the swing states. He should pick her because women make up more than half of the electorate and she has the message and staff to mobilize them.

    She should accept if offered because although it is not what she was aiming for, she would be the first woman vice-president of the United States. She should accept if offered because it would give her the platform to advance the programs she believes in like achieving true universal health care. She should accept if offered because she will be blamed if he loses the election no matter what, but less if she is on the ticket. She should accept if offered because she will continue to be an inspiration to the next generation of women who try to achieve their dreams.

    I am convinced that everyone on this blog who makes derogatory remarks toward Obama or Clinton would not have voted for either one anyway and is just trying to upset democrats. If you support Obama then you will vote for him no matter who he picks for vp and if you are a Clinton supporter you will vote for Obama whether she is on the ticket or not. The only difference is how enthusiastic you will be doing it.

    June 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. dale

    Bishop: Who are you to call gun-owners uneducated when you can't even spell the Vice-President's last name?

    June 26, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  18. Ryan, New York, NY

    I'm completely with Ken in NM (June 26th, 2008 4:32 pm ET ).

    I do find disagreements with Kennedy every once in awhile, but overall, it seems that I usually agree with whichever side he chooses. I'm not sure I agreed with his position regarding the death sentence for child rape case earlier this week, but this decision and the decision on habeus corpus have been on the money.

    It still amazes me that people don't understand what the Founding Fathers envisioned with the 2nd Amendment. Just read the other public documents regarding the topic that were written by the Bill of Rights' authors, like the Federalist Papers or other pamphelets of the time.

    Sam Adams said that the [b]"Constitution shall never be construed . . . to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." [/b] James Madison in Federalist 46 said "The advantage of being armed . . . the Americans possess over the people of all other nations . . . Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several Kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

    June 26, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Ben

    More blood destined to be spilt!

    June 26, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. ldavid56

    How many stories have we heard of people with guns using them against other people? Whether it's the kid who brings the family gun to school, high school or college students who take them to school, drive-bys, estranged spouses, or disgruntled employees who take them to work, the end result is all the same. These guns weren't used to protect a home, they were used against another person in anger.

    June 26, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. 1234

    I was pleased to read that Obama has a rather conservative take on this issue by leaving it up to the states and that no uniform prohibition should rule on this issue. He is conservative just where he needs to be. There is no moral dilemma on this issue....and I am what many would consider a liberal.

    June 26, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  22. Nigel

    Besides Roe V Wade here are a few reasons why we all should be careful what we wish for in November

    John McCain is one of only a few Senators to earn a Zero percent lifetime rating from Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund, and he only scored that high because the organization doesn’t have a lower rating…. Let’s look at his record:

    He voted against requiring health care plans to cover birth control (3/22/03).

    He voted against comprehensive, medically accurate sex education (7/25/06).

    He voted against international family planning funding (3/14/96).

    He voted against funding to prevent teen and unintended pregnancies (3/17/05).

    He voted against public education for emergency contraception (3/17/05).

    And he voted against restoring Medicaid funding that could be used for family planning for low-income women (3/17/05).

    June 26, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  23. 1234

    RE: last comment – I addressed the wrong issue. speed reading again. thought this was the one about the death penalty can't be enforced for child rapists.

    no to handguns
    yes to death penalty for child rapists.

    June 26, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  24. jek

    I love it when conservatives complain about activist, liberal judges and claim that allowing them to be on the bench will drastically change the course of our country without regard to what the people (i.e., the legislature) has to say. The Court's ruling today, which was issued by the conservative justices, will have drastic consequences on all of the gun-control laws throughout the entire country. Are you ready? Brace yourself for the barage of litigation challenging every single gun-control law–local, state, and federal–throughout the land.

    June 26, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  25. John McCain-McFlip-Flop-McBush is no "maverick"


    You are not Russert ... Not even close ... Please shut up! You grate on me like no other "journalist" ... And I use that term loosely, very loosely.

    June 26, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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