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. Carl from MI

    Good thing Obama's gonna sweep the election. For McCain to fill up the Supreme Court with Republican/Conservative cronies would destroy American Freedom. Why would American Freedom be destroyed, you ask?

    Because 'Freedom', by Webster's definition, means "the quality or state of being free: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action". McCain's Supreme Court would take away a woman's right to choose... amongst other freedoms of US Citizens.

    Freedom is ENTIRELY about having a CHOICE. Without having something else to choose from, all that is left is to follow directives made by a fascist dictator and government. We've already had to do that for almost 8 years and look at the state of our nation today.

    June 26, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  2. Reality Check Richmond Virginia

    from what I heard the court still left open the rights of government to regulate the sale and possesion of fire arms, which is the most important thing. The second amendment is not going away, which I have no problem with......but I do have problems with automatic weapons, the gun show loophole etc. If those things can be regulated, I have no problem with the courts ruling.

    I do however wish that people cared as much about the 4th amendment as they do about the 2nd.

    June 26, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Do we want more liberal justices so next time we lose our 2nd Amendment rights? Do we need more liberal justices who side with rapists of children and terrorists? That's the kind of justices Obama will nominate. Obama will be America's worst nightmare.

    June 26, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  4. richard

    Do pens make spelling errors? Or is it the person with the pen?

    June 26, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  5. Stephanie

    Enough already, Clinton/McCain – we get it. You're a republican and want to divide the democrats as much as possible. You're sooo smart! I wish I could have no confidence in my canidate and have to make up lies about the other guy just like you.

    I'm not creative enough to make up all sorts of inflammatory and untrue remarks that are aimed at the uneducated slightly racist people that would be swayed into voting for McCain out of unfounded fears.

    Try to be more creative next time. Or better yet, go support your own canidate and leave ours alone. Real democrats will never be fooled into voting for the opposite ideals that Clinton and Obama both share, just to spite the DNC. We don't want to live another 8 years in this mess that McCain is just fine with.

    June 26, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. Helen, NY

    Wolf,Can you tell me why Barack is quiet? Democrats are quiet because they know that they can lose elections. However they have a plan to bring liberal judges to the Supreme Court. American people are watching it. We do not want Barack to be our president. he has radical policies. Vote John McCain.

    June 26, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. Ken in NM

    The right decision was made just like the right decision has be made on the last 2 major supreme court decision. I don't believe that this decision stated that you can own any kind of gun that you want but the DC law pretty much made it illegal for a law abiding resident to own a gun in their home. I have no desire to own a gun and believe that some restrictions are constitutional but I think it's pretty obvious that the founding fathers wanted the citizens to have the right to own firearms on some level. The idea that we have a military, police officers, and a national guard doesn't change the fact that the bill of rights talks about INDIVIDUAL rights and if you read about the framers of the constitution it's pretty obvious that they were talking about individuals. Like I said, I believe in restriction on some level but the bill of rights is the document that also protects free speech, freedom of and from religion, the right to choose and so on so this document needs to be respected and followed. I am proud to be an american when I read our consitution and how progressive and intellegent our founding fathers were.

    June 26, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  8. Belle

    Roe v. Wade was supported by REPUBLICAN JUDGES folks.

    If you have a Constitutional LAW Judge, their job is to apply existing law, NOT overturn it. Law rises above partys. Judges vote according to the law, NOT according to parties.

    Wolf, you should be ashamed of yourself. You know McCain won't try to overturn Roe v. Wade. It takes the HOUSE and the SENATE to write a new law to overturn it. Quit the FEAR Bating...what you are saying is simply not true.

    June 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. Catty

    For all the opponents to hand guns...make sure to tell the armed robber in your house how you feel about guns...I'm sure they'll care!

    June 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. Daniel, WA

    Look at the guys who comment here. There is no consrvative or liberal judge. They have to interpret the constituion. How can you ban guns when our second amendment allows us to bear arms.
    Hre you are saying Obama 2008. For what? He is an idiot. USA has their power in the world and we must keep it that way. Barackl will make us like any other country including 3rd world country. Barack go away.CNN you must be fair to publish these comments. It is the truth.

    June 26, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. Mike

    Thank God Obama is going to be president.

    June 26, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. Patrick

    The sentence reading "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" should say 'child rapists' instead of 'child rape victims.' Sentencing child rape victims to death seems needlessly cruel. Some sharia judges might not even go that far.

    June 26, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. Justice League

    Unless you are a registered gun owner, and registered to the gun you are using, you are still breaking the law, 2nd Ammendment or not. Go get registered.

    June 26, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. Ula Nejad- Sacramento Ca

    Obama's recent opposition to the rape case makes me uncomfortable. His sense of balance on delicate issues is becoming obvious. I wondered for a moment if we will be looking at the introduction of Sharia law in the US if he is President. It was suggested by an Archbishop in the UK and was welcomed by some groups. He has shown support for the rainbow organization. I think what McCain would be more practical in his arguments on these issues for women.

    June 26, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Arin

    Many Americans are unaware that the balance of the S Ct is up for grabs with the next president, and I truly believe appointing justices is the most important role the next pres. will play. It is imperative we elect Barack Obama or else we will likely slide back into the judicial dark ages. Long live Justice Stevens!

    June 26, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. adel

    what does Wolf meant by saying Obama is bitting his tongue in his comment? I will advice that you start to accept the reality that this is a well calculated, well educated, intelligent, smart man in all respect who may one day become the President of God's own country. Your side comments on your situation room about Obama is evident to your viewers. Your journalism is too negative and one sided against Obama.

    June 26, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. saga for Obama

    we, i believe need to rectify the conditions in which people live that make them "criminals". off setting the addiction to drugs, the lives of hopelessness, failed education and the likes. if we change the atmosphere created by media, TV, and movies we will see a change in the use of guns.

    June 26, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. Anita from Arizona

    I agreed with the Gun decision, but disagreed with the Rape decision. What does that make me? Does anyone know?

    There's not a law or rule a criminal is going to follow with guns. Get real here. The constitutional right to defend yourself is how this country was founded.

    The Rape decision was a mistake. The damage that man did to that little girl is far worse than death. Feeding him three squares and having a roof over his head is WAY more the he deserves.

    June 26, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  19. Haas

    To all the women voters out there,

    If McCain is president he will likely be able to appoint 2 new supreme court justices. And I tell you now, they will take away your right to choose. Mark my words. Vote according to your interests.

    June 26, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  20. Gene

    Although I hate the idea of more guns being on the streets... I have to agree with ALECO1...

    Making something illegal will not take it off the streets. Drugs like Pot, Cocaine, etc. are all illegal... yet I can get any drug I want within an hour just by making a phone call or two. Citizens being allowed to own guns puts them on a level playing field with criminals who would get them regardless of whether they are legal or not.

    But I do think that there should be a more stringent gun ownership license... a required gun safety course... to make sure that people, especially with kids, have it beat into their heads the importance of gun safety and keeping the guns well out of reach of kids.

    June 26, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  21. karuna bertam

    The judges are there to make the best decisions in a fair manner, but of course they will always be biased depending on their own beliefs. So to all those disgruntled women who would vote McSame because they feel Hillary had been wronged, I would say "go ahead". These are the ones who do not know that their freedom of speech, rights , thoughts and deeds will only realize what they have lost when they do not have them any longer. Right now, they have the freedom to do what they want and the freedom to not only be bitter but stupid.

    June 26, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. scotty

    Iam am for the owning of a gun The think I find funny is no-one ever complains about Bullets. Guns dont kill people Bullets do............just think about it

    June 26, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  23. Mark Burns

    Ths 2nd ammendment to the Constitution is the Lexington and Concord ammendment, where the British attempted to take the arms from the people. It's intent was to ensure that the citizens had rights that they did not have under British rule. The new federal government was no more trusted than the former British government had been.

    To this end, I believe that the 2nd ammendment confers upon us the ability to own any weapon that the governemt could use against it's citizens. If we with to ban handguns, then we need to ban handguns from everyone, including police, FBI, etc. Or ban all automatic or semi-automatic weapons. Maybe everyone can have a small calibre handgun, but we outlaw the large calibre ones.

    This does not preclude the government from using nuclear bombs against it's foreign enemies, but not against it's citizens.

    It is simply a matter of balance.

    June 26, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    How about this. Anyone over 21 who can register a gun for "protection" also registers for the DRAFT. Many of these punks on the street who want to settle their kindergarden feuds with guns are the biggest cowards! Most of them are dumb bunnies who cant even shoot( or hit a real target anyway ) They would run screaming for thier "mommy" at the thought of being hit by a roadside bomb but they will shoot at their stupid criminal buddies in a schoolyard. I am the anxious spouse of a US Army soldier serving yet another tour in Iraq. Could we get a few of these wanna be gunslingers to go over and help out so our men and women can have a break?

    June 26, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  25. Dems be dopes

    For everyone who is anti-gun I challenge you to do this:

    Place a sign in your yard or window that says "GUN FREE ZONE"

    Get back to us on who shows up at night over the next several weeks.

    June 26, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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