Donklephant Monday Open Thread

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Open Thread

What do you think Robert Byrd’s legacy will be?

When do you think BP will be able to finally cap the well?

What do you think about the SCOTUS decision on gun rights?

Sound off!


This entry was posted on Monday, June 28th, 2010 and is filed under Open Thread. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

36 Responses to “Donklephant Monday Open Thread”

  1. Simon Says:

    1. Very little outside the confines of WV. Byrd did his best and most important work as a defender of Senate tradition, but Senate adherence to that tradition is imperiled whenever one party has a majority and feels constrained. (In the last decade, first my party petulantly ramped up the rhetoric in preparation for a serious rupture, and then the other party did so; by grace of God, neither has yet pulled the trigger.) The Senate will be poorer for Byrd’s passing because his passing is likely to hasten its passing.

    2. About twenty minutes after hell freezes over.

    3. It’s difficult to say anything substantial against the McDonald decision, which is presumably why the dissenters didn’t bother.

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  3. kranky kritter Says:

    Byrd is likely to be remembered more for his manner,and the aforementioned insistence on rules and traditions. Fondly? Mileage varies.

    On BP, I’m expecting the completed relief wells will finally staunch the flow in August. Which is a catastrophe and a disgrace, as we all know.

    I’m untroubled by the SCOTUS ruling, which I think was gotten right. As phrased, Americans are guaranteed the right to bear arms. The militia bit is simply not phrased as a conditional. [That it’s mentioned as a rationale doesn’t mean it can therefore be swept aside by arguing that the rationale has faded. The rationale for a well-regulated militia is constitionally declared so it exists in force unless the constitution is amended to void it.

    Plus, notice that scotus seems inclined to allow reasonable gun laws and regulations, just not things like blanket bans.

    Anyone have any thoughts on Kagan? IMO she’s the liberal standardbearer that the democrats seem to have closed ranks on, and they’re going to be able to smile, say nice things, and rose garden her through.
    And I’m ok with that. I think scotus noms are a big part of Presidential prerogative. The senate should not fail to confirm such a nominee just because they have managed to “raise questions… .”

    But FWIW, I see no reason to think that Kagan is moderate or mainstream. To the contrary, I’d say there’s a very good chance that she’ll base some of her decisions on her abstract personal sense of justice instead of precedent. Or be expansive in her reasoning, or whatever you want to call it. The conservative tide in the supreme court crested one appointment short. And especially if Obama is re-elected, we should expect a balance similar to what we’ve seen in recent decades for the next generation.

    What is amusing to me is that she seems booked on a partisan cruise going right up the GOP’s arse, and there isn’t IMO really much they can do. Currently both sides seem inclined to pretend that’s not what’s happening. The democrats because they know they can win by smiling, and the GOP because they know they can’t stop it.

    For it to really get ugly, the GOP needs some sort of specific ugly ammo that shows her to be unfit. Something beyond ideological whining that she has been sympathetic to the liberal viewpoint. It’s true, but it’s allowed, so… .

  4. Nick Benjamin Says:

    1. Senators don’t realy have the opportunity to leave legacies. Byrd turned out to be very right on some issues (ie: Iraq War), and very wrong on others (ie: the Civil Rights Act).

    2. If they get the damn relief wells right, August. Before then never. This isn’t a slow leak of room temperature cooking oil into your room temperature aquarium, this is extremely hot oil blasting out at high pressure, into the freezing waters a mile beneath the surface. Frankly I’m impressed they have a cap that can physically survive in that environment.

    In 20-20 hindsight those oil executives were right: the only sensible plan for a major blow-out a mile down is be damn sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

    3. I haven’t been able to devote as much attention to the McDonald decision as I wanted, but I have not been impressed with what I heard.

    The second amendment specifically reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” IMO it’s impossible to claim this does not allow states to regulate guns.

    Which means they have to use the 14th Amendment to justify the decision. I heard some idiot claiming that the 14th Amendment was passed to keep white southerners from “disarming” blacks. That’s total BS. Before the 14th Amendment blacks didn’t have guns. The whole point of John Brown’s raid was to get guns for slaves, so the slaves could rise up and free themselves. The Amendment was passed to keep southern states from preserving white dominance though legal BS. The 14th Amendment was not enforced by a well-armed black population, and did not fail because southern states disarmed said population. It was enforced by the US Army, and failed when the Supremes decided a new brand of legal chicanery (Separate but Equal) was valid.

    As for the argument against it’s pretty simple: the right to bear arms is not a right you have because you’re a US Citizen. It’s a right you have because you’re also a Citizen of a State, the state has chosen to allow members of it’s militia to keep guns, and states get to regulate their militias. This interpretation is backed up by years of prior Court decisions, prior gun control regulations (including several from the late 1800s — Wyatt Erp did not allow guns in his town), and the fact that it was overturned 5-4.

  5. kranky kritter Says:

    Nick, you seem to be confusing “regulate” with “ban.” The supreme court has not denied states the right to regulate weapons. Clearly SCOTUS’s view is that a ban is too much of an infringement. Regulation OTOH is largely accepted as sensible and within reason.

    BTW senators can definitely have legacies. Of course, no senator is likely to have a national legacy that matches the legacy they leave the state they have served… .

    As for the argument against it’s pretty simple: the right to bear arms is not a right you have because you’re a US Citizen. It’s a right you have because you’re also a Citizen of a State, the state has chosen to allow members of it’s militia to keep guns, and states get to regulate their militias.

    I agree that this argument is pretty simple. It amounts to denying the plain language of the amendment. Again, and to stress, the language of the amendment is not, not, not, phrased as a conditional. The right to bear arms is a right we have because the constitution declares it. It doesn’t go on to say “and if someone else thinks we don’t need militias anymore, then forget we said anything.” [It also doesn't say that "the right of state militia members to bear arms may not be infringed" btw.]

    Opponents of gun rights make much of the fact that the constitution states a rationale (militias) for declaring that the right to bear arms may not be infringed. But they can’t account for the problem of the lack of any conditional if-then language or anything of the sort. The declared right has full force and effect regardless of anyone’s opinion of the status of the original rationale. In the opinion of the constitution, the need for a free state to have a well-ordered militia endures to this second, and will endure unless and until that language is stricken. So too does the uninfringeable right to bear arms of all persons to whom the constitution applies endure.

    By now we should all be pretty familiar with the felt need of judges, politicians, activists, and so on for the constitution’s words to mean what we want and need it them to mean. As opposed to what they actually say. And I’m not even entirely unsympathetic to the rare necessity of an expansionist reading.

    But I don’t see any need for us to ignore the plain fact that the constitution states that the right to bear arms may not be infringed. There’s plenty of jurisprudence allowing reasonable regulation, and we seem to have chugged along ok with that. I see no crisis or crumbling republic or defining moment.

  6. Simon Says:

    Byrd turned out to be very right on some issues (ie: Iraq War)

    How so?

    this is extremely hot oil blasting out at high pressure

    The high pressure part I understand, but I hadn’t heard that the oil is hot and don’t understand why it would be. Can you expand?

    I haven’t been able to devote as much attention to the McDonald decision as I wanted, but I have not been impressed with what I heard.

    Well, it’s pretty simple. The bill of rights applies only to the federal government, but the Supreme Court has held that the Fourteenth Amendment applies most of those rights against the states—the so-called “incorporation” doctrine. Whether one gets there in toto via the privileges/immunities clause, as Justice Black, many academics, and myself, would prefer, or in part via substantive due process, as the court has done, it generally comes to the same thing. (The reader will infer exceptions from my emphasis, and we’ll get to that in a minute.)

    District of Columbia v. Heller confirmed what everyone who can read already knew: the second amendment affords a right to keep and bear arms from federal intrusion. McDonald does nothing more than confirm that, like virtually every other right in the bill of rights, the right recognized in Heller applies against the states. This isn’t rocket science. It only seems complicated because the court’s failure to heed Justice Black’s advice and its insistence on doing incorporation via substantive due process (and its all-too-modest refusal in McDonald to simplify matters by overruling the Slaughterhouse Cases) necessitates a lengthy and entirely pointless excursus on whether the right to keep and bear arms is “fundamental.”

    As I’ve said before, I would overrule the Slaughterhouse Cases and hold that all the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States—that is, the entire bill of rights—apply fully against the states.

    The second amendment specifically reads “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” IMO it’s impossible to claim this does not allow states to regulate guns.

    This statement makes no sense at all unless you are reasoning, speciously, that because the amendment speaks of the need for the militia to be regulated, so also may arms be regulated. Moreover, your reading pulls the amendment inside out: in its strongest form, your claim is that it is impossible to read the second amendment as doing precisely what it says: as precluding the infringement of the right to keep and bear arms.

    I do, however, agree that a more modest reading of your comment makes sense. The amendment precludes infringement of the right. Not every regulation having to do with guns transgresses that limit. To that extent, it is indeed impossible to read the Second Amendment, in terms, as banning any regulation whatsoever to do with firearms. If the right can be abridged for felons, for example, as the court allows, it cannot be an infringement of the right for a state to require a background check.

    On the other hand, one might note that liberals are the first to the barricades when it comes to judicially-created prophylactic rules (e.g. the overbreadth doctrine or the exclusionary rule) designed to proscribe government conduct that doesn’t transgress the textually explicit perimeter of constitutional rights, but that gets just a little too close to doing so for judicial comfort. Gun rights advocates will claim that registration requirements, for instance, are prohibited because even if it does not itself constitute an infringement (a point they will not concede but for sake of argument), it facilitates a future infringement (“registration just means they know who has what that they need to take away”). One can reject that argument, as I do, but one can hardly deny that it is squarely in the tradition of the Warren Court.

    Which means they have to use the 14th Amendment to justify the decision.

    This simply betrays ignorance of constitutional law generally and the incorporation doctrine. Of course they have to use the Fourteenth Amendment to justify the decision. Any decision applying any right from the bill of rights must go through the Fourteenth Amendment.

  7. Chris Says:

    I’ll jump into the foray with a question: where and when was it defined that a “militia” was every citizen of a state? I don’t know much about the amendment, and the whole gun issue in general.

  8. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @Simon:
    On the oil temperature:
    I don’t have any direct data, and AFIAK neither does anyone else. But it’s coming from a very deep hole, and oil from that far down is generally quite hot. This is the closest thing I have to a scientific source on that factoid:
    http://www.glgroup.com/News/Picture-becoming-clearer-on-BP-Deepwater-Horizon-incident-48146.html

    On the Second Amendment:
    “Shall not be infringed” means no regulation is possible. That was the point. The Feds were being prevented from disarming militias with legal chicanery, so the language of the Amendment banned such chicanery.

    Which means that if the amendment applies to the states it necessarily stops them from regulating arms. They can still do some stuff — banning felons from getting weapons just as they ban felons from voting, for example. Which allows background checks, and waiting times to perform those checks.

    But if a law-abiding person wants a tank, and the state cannot infringe that person’s right to arms, said law-abiding person can buy said tank.

    @kk
    I am arguing the conditional is implied.

    In cases like this it’s useful to create a statement that’s similar grammatically, and interpret that. If my dad said:
    The encouragement of ruly children being necessary to the order of a well-run household, the right to stay out until 10:00 shall not be infringed.

    I would assume that the right to stay out until 10:00 applied only insofar as said right encouraged obedience. In other words if I disobeyed dad I could be grounded.

    @Chris
    The militia is an ancient English institution. Everyone who could fight was (theoretically) required to serve in it. It was imported to the colonies, and we kept it when we declared independence. It’s probably been officially defined somewhere, but it started out as a Common Law Institution with no formal definition.

    Today all men capable of fighting, and female veterans, are members of the “unorganized militia.” The organized militia is the US military, plus stat military forces. States mostly have National Guard troops, who happen to also be Federal troops, but some have State Defense Forces as well. A few have a Naval Militia, or a ceremonial unit.

  9. Simon Says:

    Chris, see, e.g., Va. Decl. of Rights, art. 13 (1776) (“a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state”); Ratification of the Constitution by New York (1788) (“a well regulated Militia, including the body of the People capable of bearing Arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State”); District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct. 2783, 2791 (2008) (“the ‘militia’ in colonial America consisted of a subset of ‘the people’—those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range”); 1 Stat. 271 (1792) (same); accord United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 178-79 (1939).

  10. Chris Says:

    that’s quite a cut and paste simon :P But interesting nonetheless. So if each state defined it’s own “militia”, do those definitions still hold true today?

  11. Adam Herman Says:

    Byrd- he’ll be the guy who always stopped hating minorities about 20 years too late. It would have been easier to forgive his racism thanks to his coming around if he hadn’t been one of the most virulent homophobes until the day he died. The guy was just slow on the uptake when it came to minority rights.

    BP- It’s not going to be capped. The relief wells are the only way this is stopping.

    Guns-The Supreme Court case was correctly decided. The Bill of Rights is incorporated against the states. The 2nd amendment was a glaring exception that made no logical sense.

  12. Nick Benjamin Says:

    that’s quite a cut and paste simon :P But interesting nonetheless. So if each state defined it’s own “militia”, do those definitions still hold true today?At the state level I doubt the definition of militia has changed much since 1776. It’s probably expanded in some to include women, but otherwise there’s no reason to fiddle with it. The relevant federal law is the Militia Act of 1903.

    Wikipedia has a summary at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia_%28United_States%29#The_reserve_militia

  13. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I hate blockquotes.

    Here is a clearer response to Chris:
    At the state level I doubt the definition of militia has changed much since 1776. It’s probably expanded in some to include women, but otherwise there’s no reason to fiddle with it. The relevant federal law is the Militia Act of 1903.

    Wikipedia has a summary at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia_%28United_States%29#The_reserve_militia

  14. kranky kritter Says:

    I am arguing that in a legal document, you aren’t allowed to imply, vaguely or otherwise. You state specifically what you mean and want.

    When the author(s) of a document fail(s) to do so, then you have appeals courts and ultimately a supreme court which decides what is meant, and the meaning is established by precedent. You are free to make your argument about what is or is not implied, and then the court decides. If the court decides against you, you can of course maintain that they got it wrong. But legally speaking, you are thereafter wrong about how the rule or law applies if you stick to your guns. Pun intended.

    “Shall not be infringed,” has been established by precedents to mean that reasonable regulation is permitted. In other words, a regulation doesn’t infringe on your right to bear, it simply explains the mechanism(s) by which you can exercise your right. Once the regulations begin to disallow broad classes of law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to bear arms, then THAT is clear infringement.

    SCOTUS has made their rulings over time. For practical short and intermediate-term purposes, the meaning has been settled. The remaining possibilities for alteration are a future scotus ruling which is counter to a long series of rulings(and which scotus justices traditionally REALLY hate to do), or else an amendment to the constitution. For the foreseeable future, the II means that law-abiding American citizens have the right to bear arms. Not just members of some militia that enjoys governmental approval.

    It’s worthwhile to recall that during the time of our founders in the early American era when the constitution was written, it was still a common perspective to view a powerful central government with suspicion. Local and personal autonomy was a desired condition against both overarching federal and petty local tyranny. If one appreciates and respects the mindset that was prevalent at that time, then it becomes easy to think that the militia rationale was little more than a convenient hook to hang the hat of reassuring people that individuals could keep their weapons. Had their been any effort at that time to ban weapons in the way that modern folks have been trying, it’s likely that the government could have quickly collapsed.

    As an editor, I think that the 2nd amendment is another case where the perils of using long flowery sentences are made manifest. The best practice, whether you are a constitutional drafter or a parent, is to use direct clear language. Avoid dependent clauses if their meaning is not clear and ironclad.

    It is, as Nick has shown, quite easy in the modern day to interpret the II as being conditional. But editorially, the words aren’t there. Only the 2nd half of the statement is clear, that bearing rights may not be infringed. The rationale in the first part is missing something that explicitly declares how it bears on the rest. Logically, that means it should be viewed as an aside, an interesting mention.

    Let’s not, in the end, forget one of the most important social connections of the constitution to the present, which is that it was written by politicians. Recalling this tempts me to speculate about why the politicians writing the bill of rights said “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.. .” Perhaps it’s because they wanted to sound in control and high-minded. They knew that the people regarded powerful central government with suspicion and that the people would NEVER stand for having their guns confiscated. So they composed the aforementioned flowery bit. Perhaps, if they had been 100% honest, the 2nd amendment would have read as follows:

    Because the people are suspicious that the American government could become as meddlesome as the English one recently thrown off, and because the people would never stand for gun confiscation, we’re explicitly declaring that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. We get that banning guns would be a dealbreaker.

    The understanding of the day was that people had been guaranteed the right to keep their guns. That understanding has endured for over 2 centuries in the minds of the people regardless of what some word-parsers have argued. If we Americans want to collectively change our minds, believing that the needs of the time of the bill of rights have evaporated and that modern concerns create modern imperatives, the best (and really only fair) way to change the rules is via an amendment.The establishment of any new countervailing understanding deserves to come only from the kind of broad consensus that an amendment reflects.

    Happy 4th everyone.

  15. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I am arguing that in a legal document, you aren’t allowed to imply, vaguely or otherwise. You state specifically what you mean and want.

    That’s true today, but back then they weren’t quite so precise. That level of precision is necessary today mostly because lawyers keep making huge asses of themselves, twisting simple English into bizarre legal constructs. Which they then use to make loads of cash by screwing everyone else.

    I have a simple point:

    Your argument off saying the Constitution is, by definition, a clear, specific document. then you claim that an entire clause, in a sentence, is a “meaningless aside” despite the fact it’s not marked as an aside. You’re not arguing for clarity, you’re arguing that you, kk, have the right to ignore any bit of the Constitution you dislike as it’s “unclear.”

    When the author(s) of a document fail(s) to do so, then you have appeals courts and ultimately a supreme court which decides what is meant, and the meaning is established by precedent.

    Before last week the precedent was that the Right to Bear Arms was subject to State Regulation. In the one case where it was brought up, the Supremes dismissed the argument on the basis that the weapon in question (a sawed-off shotgun) was no use in a militia. this case was a handgun ban, and combat troops don’t use handguns.

    You are free to make your argument about what is or is not implied, and then the court decides. If the court decides against you, you can of course maintain that they got it wrong. But legally speaking, you are thereafter wrong about how the rule or law applies if you stick to your guns. Pun intended.

    What annoys me about this case is that they overturned a major, politically contentious, legal precedent 5-4.

    I’m worried about the future precedent that sets. There are thorny polito-legal arguments about the Constitution all the time. The system works because it’s small-c conservative, doesn’t change unless there’s very good reason, and generally waits for consensus on the Court to do so. The reason this decision happened today is simple politics: they got to five votes. What happens when the next politically charged case is decided?

    I don’t usually agree with people who worry about the future of the Republic. But if the courts get politicized were fucked. And this court is extremely politicized.

  16. the Word Says:

    @Nick-

    Been some time since I studied Constitutional Law but I am not sure I agree with your assessment of the original Justices. I can’t remember the case but we spent several days discussing one sentence (and if I remember correctly, two words) They were the subject of discussion for the whole period. I think that they were far more precise and IMO better thinkers who were cautious and endeavoring to keep things clear. There were cases that were far more complicated in the beginning because there was no precedent on many things good or bad. They were giants compared to the current crop.

  17. SaneInSF Says:

    1. Being a member of the KKK
    2. Who knows
    3. Ha ha!

  18. kranky kritter Says:

    Your argument off saying the Constitution is, by definition, a clear, specific document. ….

    No, I never argued that the constitution is perfectly clear and specific. That would be silly. Not as silly as you saying I said it when I didn’t…but still silly.

    then you claim that an entire clause, in a sentence, is a “meaningless aside” despite the fact it’s not marked as an aside.

    Not quite. My point relates to the existing construction of the words. I’ve argued that the language is not in fact constructed so that the right to bear arms is conditional upon participation in a militia. You have in fact conceded this by claiming that the conditional is “implied.” I used the term “aside” to accurately describe to way the sentence is constructed, in terms of logic. Just as if you had said “this being sunday. I King NicK declare Kranky incorrect.” Sunday isn’t relevant.

    The framers could have said “We acknowledge the right for citizens to bear arms for the sole purpose of militia participation.” But they didn’t say that. Since they didn’t, the honus is on you to support the notion that it’s what they intended. Say, by means of context from that time. You can’t do it, because it ISN’T what they intended.

    What you’ve utterly failed to do is address my contention that the II is in the BoR as a political acknowledgement that banning and confiscating weapons was an untenable idea. The II is an explicit acknowledgement of that political reality. You’ve also failed to address the fact that the II has been commonly understood to guarantee a citizen’s right to bear arms ever since. Instead of nibbling at my particular choice of words, why not try rebutting the main thrust of my argument?

    You’re not arguing for clarity, you’re arguing that you, kk, have the right to ignore any bit of the Constitution you dislike as it’s “unclear.”

    Alas. Once again, no. Not at all. There is a clear and ongoing responsibility to try to figure out what each bit means. My contention is no more or less than a good faith effort to do that. I feel (again, in good faith, I need to stress that) that as an editor I can safely and logically declare that the ii does not use conditional language. If conditionality was in fact truly meant to be implied, we need some other supporting sources. Such as, say, correspondence between the drafters indicating that the only reason not to ban arms bearing was due to militias. If we did a search of reams of american documents related to the II, at what point, chronologically, do we begin to see it suggested that guns could be banned if they were unrelated to militias? Does this idea appear when the BoR was written? Or later? Much later?

    Before last week the precedent was that the Right to Bear Arms was subject to State Regulation.

    There’s a clear and unbroken line of precedents that states are allowed, within reason, to regulate the exercise of American citzens’ right to bear arms. Nothing in the current ruling changes that.

    You’ve repeatedly attempted to shade the II as something on which states have had a higher authority, superseding the federal government. That understanding has never existed. You’re trying to retroactively declare that this understanding of superseding state authority over the right to bear arms has ben in place all along, and has just been overthrown, At best, you’re mistaken, Your transparently wishful claim is preposterous. The right to bear arms is a federally granted right. States can regulate each Americans exercise of of this right, but they can’t take the right away by banning guns. That’s a clear violation.

    I don’t usually agree with people who worry about the future of the Republic. But if the courts get politicized were fucked. And this court is extremely politicized.

    Faux naievete ill suits you Nick. SCOTUS has never been free of politics. And has been up to its armpits in it at least since Roe v. Wade. Probably since forever. By what measure is the court just now becoming politicized. By the measure of your displeasure? C’mon, now. Repeat after me: same as it ever was.

  19. gerryf Says:

    Monday Open Thread thought:

    No new Donklephant posts in 8 days?

  20. WHQ Says:

    Since, as gerryf noted, it’s slow around here, I’d like to jump in on the 2nd Amendment discussion. My questions have generally concerned what “infringed” means moreso than what the militia reference means. I generally assume the right is an individual one regardless of one’s militia membership.

    My main question is this: If you have reasonable legal access to a reasonable variety of legally useful firearms, can your right to keep and bear arms be said to be infringed?

    This gets at the question of bans. Is a ban on one type or model of firearm (or some number of types or models) an infringement if there remains a reasonable variety of other types or models legally available for purchase and use? Is, for example, a ban on AK-47s, in and of itself, an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms?

    My thinking is that the right to keep and bear arms is not a fundamental right, but one that supports fundamental rights. So long as those fundamental rights are sufficiently supported by one’s right to keep and bear arms, there is no infringement.

    I know the devil is in the details here, and that there has to be some exercise of judgement even when the details have been fully considered, but, to my thinking, the above is what needs to be determined, in good faith and to the greatest extent possible.

  21. Chris Says:

    Clearly WHQ doesn’t love Mom, apple pie, and baseball. Most likely he’s a communist.

  22. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @kk
    You do what you accuse me of doing:
    You claim you have the only possible reading of the Second Amendment. That the first half is irrelevant because it must be irrelevant because you think it should be irrelevant.

    Grammatically you could be right. I could be right. But, given that this is a legal document, it would be rather stupid to include an irrelevant aside without labeling it as such. Therefore I conclude that it’s probably relevant, which means it’s a conditional clause.

    You conclude that, because grammatically it could be irrelevant, it must be irrelevant.

    This leads you to a second error:
    You claim the Amendment was always focused entirely on individual rights. That was always the main idea. But that is clearly not the case because of the language of the Amendment. Even if “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” was not intended as a conditional it must have some relation to the rest of the Amendment or it would not be included. Given that it’s a perfectly sensible justification for the second clause, and that the founders did not think it was necessary to include other explanations; it’s pretty difficult to believe the founders didn’t see this as (primarily) an attempt to protect state militias.

    I note that you also try to link this with previous precedents. I must simply point out that under previous precedents Chicago’s ban on handguns was legal. Period. If they hadn’t changed their interpretation of the Amendment Chicago’s ban would stand and the NRA would be out in the cold.

    BTW, I have not responded to your claims on either the political reality of the day, or that it’s commonly understood as a right to bear arms. The first was true, but is irrelevant. At that time it would have been politically impossible for the Feds to regulate Acid Rain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

    The second is not entirely true. Many Americans think the Second Amendment is (at best) an ananochrism. They want assault weapons to be banned, for there to be strong laws against handguns, etc. It’s also irrelevant. Judges are not supposed to care what people outside the courtroom think. That’s their job, and the main reason they have lifetime appointments.

    What matters is the language of the Amendment they founders actually passed, because that’s actually the law.

  23. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @the Word
    I think you misinterpret my statements.

    I wasn’t accusing the early Courts of being particularly political. I was accusing Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy of being political.

    The previous interpretation of the second Amendment was legally and grammatically sound. Changing the interpretation had two effects: it made a major lobby for the center-right party happy, and it banned gun control laws typically implemented by the center-left party. Within 24 hours a Chicago gun ban that had survived previous Constitutional challenges was killed, not because it had changed, or the Constitution changed, but because they had five votes.

    And it’s not the first time. Bush vs. Gore was 5-4, they threw out DC’s handgun ban 5-4, they killed campaign finance reform 5-4, etc.

    Conservatives may end up regretting this decision. If they can completely redefine a major controversial issue like that why can’t we do the same? Given that they’re only up one vote right now we might have control real soon.

  24. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @WHQ
    One of the reasons I hate this ruling is that it opens up all those questions.

    For example you could say that a law banning everything but a Blunderbuss was Constitutional because a blunderbuss is arms. Note that in a world where 5-4 Court rulings are common such a ruling is actually possible, especially if the first clause of the Second Amendment is a legal nullity.

    OTOH you could claim the right to bear arms is any arms, so nukes are fine.

    Moreover if all citizens have an inalienable right to bear arms, on what basis can you deny crazy people arms?

    Presumably Roberts et al. will find some BS justification for allowing all gun bans their masters in the GOP support, but in a world where the Court changes the Constitution on a 5-4 vote is not a world in which any ruling will last.

  25. the Word Says:

    @Nick –

    I think we’re in agreement but still don’t know how we got there. I was reacting to your “back then they weren’t quite so precise” comment. I am guessing that they have always been political. My understanding is that militia meant something or it wouldn’t be there. They didn’t do superfluous.

    I think that there is a difference in the present court and it’s supporters. Most would say that the law is an attempt at precision that always has imprecision built into it that needs to be interpreted and sorted out. Some would say that what they believe is right — always and without question and there is no room for any other view. If that were truly the case we wouldn’t need courts and we certainly should see more consensus than 5-4 decisions. I think we have an activist court now more than ever.

  26. gerryf Says:

    Day 10 on the Monday open thread post:

    I think Justin should give some of the excellent commentators on this thread a forum for their thoughts beyond an “open thread”–anything is better than a 10-day old open thread as the only site activity

  27. Nick Benjamin Says:

    I think we’re in agreement but still don’t know how we got there. I was reacting to your “back then they weren’t quite so precise” comment. I am guessing that they have always been political. My understanding is that militia meant something or it wouldn’t be there. They didn’t do superfluous.

    That statement wasn’t intended solely to apply to the Courts. It also applies to the politicians. What I meant was that the founders didn’t go as batshit crazy for precision as we do today. At the time everybody knew exactly what a militia was because everyone was supposed to serve in the militia, therefore they did not bother defining it in the Constitution.

    Nowadays if a lawmaker tried that the Courts would make up their own definition, whine to high heaven that the legislature wasn’t doing it’s job, and then tut-tut the poor schmuck whose all-natural apple juice has been legally redefined as “a sugary soft drink” and banned from schools. That’s not a criticism of the founders, their courts, or even the current court specifically. It’s a criticism of today’s lawyers.

  28. kranky kritter Says:

    You claim you have the only possible reading of the Second Amendment. That the first half is irrelevant because it must be irrelevant because you think it should be irrelevant.

    Well, I can’t disagree with you that I am stating my opinion. But obviously I don’t think it’s the only one possible, as I have made copiously clearly previously by saying things like “it’s easy to interpret it as meaning… .”

    Grammatically you could be right. I could be right. But, given that this is a legal document, it would be rather stupid to include an irrelevant aside without labeling it as such. Therefore I conclude that it’s probably relevant, which means it’s a conditional clause.

    “Possibly relevant” I grant cheerfully. Conditional not so much.

    You claim the Amendment was always focused entirely on individual rights. That was always the main idea. But that is clearly not the case because of the language of the Amendment.

    I REALLY wish you’d be more reticent to attribute such absolutist positions (“focused entirely”) to me. I take great care to qualify my statements to make it clear I’m no absolutist. I realize that overstating the other guy’s position to make your argument sound better is stock in trade. I;m asking you to do better than that.

    Even if “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” was not intended as a conditional it must have some relation to the rest of the Amendment or it would not be included. Given that it’s a perfectly sensible justification for the second clause, and that the founders did not think it was necessary to include other explanations; it’s pretty difficult to believe the founders didn’t see this as (primarily) an attempt to protect state militias.

    I agree that it was included for a reason. It’s mentioned as one existing unobjectionable rationale, one among many closely related rationales that existed at the time, all under the broad and well understood category of the individual’s need for personal security, each American’s right to protect what was his: family, property, life. Don’t forget, it’s in the bill of rights, which was intended as a clarifying list of personal individual liberties.

    What I feel is missing from your interpretation is an appreciation of the mindset of the times. Again, banning firearms was an untenable idea, and the authors of the bill of rights knew this. You’re quite correct that the II lacks a full laundry list of plausible reasons for declaring that the right to bear arms could not be infringed upon. Perhaps if the authors had some inkling that the plain understanding of those time could become so eroded, they’d have included a full list of reasons. Or perhaps they were confident that because they hadn’t phrased the right as a conditional, it would endure undiminished.

    BTW, I have not responded to your claims on either the political reality of the day, or that it’s commonly understood as a right to bear arms. The first was true, but is irrelevant. At that time it would have been politically impossible for the Feds to regulate Acid Rain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

    I don’t get your acid rain argument at all. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. My argument on the political reality of the day is that politicians understood that banning firearms was an utterly untenable idea, and that the II was an acknowledgment which officially codified that understanding. It’s a promise that “we’ll never ban guns.” At the time, no one misunderstood this.

    The second is not entirely true. Many Americans think the Second Amendment is (at best) an ananochrism. They want assault weapons to be banned, for there to be strong laws against handguns, etc. It’s also irrelevant. Judges are not supposed to care what people outside the courtroom think. That’s their job, and the main reason they have lifetime appointments.

    Yeah, I basically agree with that. The common understanding upon which the II (and arguably much of the rest of the BoR) was based has indeed eroded. My point is that the BoR officially codified the common understanding which existed then, While many Americans have continued with the common original understanding that the II guarantees the right to bear, the modern era has seen the advent of some folks who think that the mention of militias provides a loophole, even though no scholarship exists clarifying that the authors wanted the II to include a loophole for revisitation at a later time when militias were not relevant. Whenever the common understanding of a constitutional right erodes and the public view evolves, there is a vehicle for revision: the amendment process.

    Basically, if 2/3 of the people think gun bans are ok, we can make the constitution say that, and that’ll be the new rule. IOf course, It’s a bit more detailed than that, but basically, that’s the existing threshold mechanism.

    For anyone who’s left wondering, let me make clear that I’m not in any sense a big gun guy. I don’t own any, didn’t grow up around them, am not an NRA member, and have no friends who are hunters or firearms buffs. Instead it’s the case that I find the constitutional argument of the pro-right to bear folks much more convincing. The argument that the authors of the II intended gun bearing to be conditional upon militia participation are in my view an example of wishful modern revisionism. I have never seen ANY supporting context from the time of the authorship that suggests that it was intended for the II to include a loophole by which guns could be banned.

    Further, I am very unconvinced that banning firearms achieves anything resembling the well meant intentions of gun banners. Gun bans don’t seem to have meaningfully curtailed American gun violence. That Europe’s combination of culture and laws has had different results does not seem to me to be strongly suggestive of what Americans can expect to experience.

    funny captcha, despite my disclaimer: montanan you

  29. kranky kritter Says:

    You claim you have the only possible reading of the Second Amendment. That the first half is irrelevant because it must be irrelevant because you think it should be irrelevant.

    Well, I can’t disagree with you that I am stating my opinion. But obviously I don’t think it’s the only one possible, as I have made copiously clearly previously by saying things like “it’s easy to interpret it as meaning… .”

    Grammatically you could be right. I could be right. But, given that this is a legal document, it would be rather stupid to include an irrelevant aside without labeling it as such. Therefore I conclude that it’s probably relevant, which means it’s a conditional clause.

    “Possibly relevant” I grant cheerfully. Conditional not so much.

    You claim the Amendment was always focused entirely on individual rights. That was always the main idea. But that is clearly not the case because of the language of the Amendment.

    I REALLY wish you’d be more reticent to attribute such absolutist positions (“focused entirely”) to me. I take great care to qualify my statements to make it clear I’m no absolutist. I realize that overstating the other guy’s position to make your argument sound better is stock in trade. I;m asking you to do better than that.

    Even if “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” was not intended as a conditional it must have some relation to the rest of the Amendment or it would not be included. Given that it’s a perfectly sensible justification for the second clause, and that the founders did not think it was necessary to include other explanations; it’s pretty difficult to believe the founders didn’t see this as (primarily) an attempt to protect state militias.

    I agree that it was included for a reason. It’s mentioned as one existing unobjectionable rationale, one among many closely related rationales that existed at the time, all under the broad and well understood category of the individual’s need for personal security, each American’s right to protect what was his: family, property, life. Don’t forget, it’s in the bill of rights, which was intended as a clarifying list of personal individual liberties.

    What I feel is missing from your interpretation is an appreciation of the mindset of the times. Again, banning firearms was an untenable idea, and the authors of the bill of rights knew this. You’re quite correct that the II lacks a full laundry list of plausible reasons for declaring that the right to bear arms could not be infringed upon. Perhaps if the authors had some inkling that the plain understanding of those time could become so eroded, they’d have included a full list of reasons. Or perhaps they were confident that because they hadn’t phrased the right as a conditional, it would endure undiminished.

    BTW, I have not responded to your claims on either the political reality of the day, or that it’s commonly understood as a right to bear arms. The first was true, but is irrelevant. At that time it would have been politically impossible for the Feds to regulate Acid Rain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

    I don’t get your acid rain argument at all. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. My argument on the political reality of the day is that politicians understood that banning firearms was an utterly untenable idea, and that the II was an acknowledgment which officially codified that understanding. It’s a promise that “we’ll never ban guns.” At the time, no one misunderstood this.

    The second is not entirely true. Many Americans think the Second Amendment is (at best) an ananochrism. They want assault weapons to be banned, for there to be strong laws against handguns, etc. It’s also irrelevant. Judges are not supposed to care what people outside the courtroom think. That’s their job, and the main reason they have lifetime appointments.

    Yeah, I basically agree with that. The common understanding upon which the II (and arguably much of the rest of the BoR) was based has indeed eroded. My point is that the BoR officially codified the common understanding which existed then, While many Americans have continued with the common original understanding that the II guarantees the right to bear, the modern era has seen the advent of some folks who think that the mention of militias provides a loophole, even though no scholarship exists clarifying that the authors wanted the II to include a loophole for revisitation at a later time when militias were not relevant. Whenever the common understanding of a constitutional right erodes and the public view evolves, there is a vehicle for revision: the amendment process.

    Basically, if 2/3 of the people think gun bans are ok, we can make the constitution say that, and that’ll be the new rule. IOf course, It’s a bit more detailed than that, but basically, that’s the existing threshold mechanism.

    For anyone who’s left wondering, let me make clear that I’m not in any sense a big gun guy. I don’t own any, didn’t grow up around them, am not an NRA member, and have no friends who are hunters or firearms buffs. Instead it’s the case that I find the constitutional argument of the pro-right to bear folks much more convincing. The argument that the authors of the II intended gun bearing to be conditional upon militia participation are in my view an example of wishful modern revisionism. I have never seen ANY supporting context from the time of the authorship that suggests that it was intended for the II to include a loophole by which guns could be banned.

    Further, I am very unconvinced that banning firearms achieves anything resembling the well meant intentions of gun banners. Gun bans don’t seem to have meaningfully curtailed American gun violence. That Europe’s combination of culture and laws has had different results does not seem to me to be strongly suggestive of what Americans can expect to experience.

    here’s my funny captcha, despite my disclaimer: montanan you

  30. kranky kritter Says:

    Presumably Roberts et al. will find some BS justification for allowing all gun bans their masters in the GOP support, but in a world where the Court changes the Constitution on a 5-4 vote is not a world in which any ruling will last.

    Masters? BS justification? So you think that Roberts and Alito are not thinking for themselves, and that they are ungenuine in their intellectual conviction about what the 2nd amendment means?

    That’s a very sad expression of bias against all conservative thought which doesn’t accord with your world view. It’s not enough that such folks are wrong, or incorrect, or mistaken? It also has to be true that they conspire by any means necessary to reach their ends?

    How much of a total lack of understanding of human nature does it take to suggest that folks like Roberts and Alito, who have devoted their lives to understanding the law, are nothing more than obedient toadies who lack the scruples to uphold vows which they made before God?

    Open question to everyone…why is it so very insufficient to accept that some folks can believe differently, yet with equally heartfelt conviction as you? Why must those with a different world view also be seen as conspiring unscrupulously to reach their ends by any means?

    I’ve been so well served over time by declining to attribute actions to malice when ignorance or stupidity can provide sufficient explanation. But this truly powerful anger-saver of a perspective just doesn’t seem to catch on with hardly anyone.

    Justin, I’ll repeat my offer: make me a poster and I can promise 3 posts per week at least until I find a job. Though I doubt Gerry meant me. It’s OK Gerry.

  31. kranky kritter Says:

    Presumably Roberts et al. will find some BS justification for allowing all gun bans their masters in the GOP support, but in a world where the Court changes the Constitution on a 5-4 vote is not a world in which any ruling will last.

    Masters? BS justification? So you think that Roberts and Alito are not thinking for themselves, and that they are ungenuine in their intellectual conviction about what the 2nd amendment means?

    That’s a very sad expression of bias against all conservative thought which doesn’t accord with your world view. It’s not enough that such folks are wrong, or incorrect, or mistaken? It also has to be true that they conspire by any means necessary to reach their ends?

    How much of a total lack of understanding of human nature does it take to suggest that folks like Roberts and Alito, who have devoted their lives to understanding the law, are nothing more than obedient toadies who lack the scruples to uphold vows which they made before God?

    Open question to everyone…why is it so very insufficient to accept that some folks can believe differently, yet with equally heartfelt conviction as you? Why must those with a different world view also be seen as conspiring unscrupulously to reach their ends by any means?

    I’ve been so well served over time by declining to attribute actions to malice when ignorance or stupidity can provide sufficient explanation. But this truly powerful anger-saver of a perspective just doesn’t seem to catch on with hardly anyone.

    Justin, I’ll repeat my offer: make me a poster and I can promise 3 posts per week at least until I find a job. Though I doubt Gerry meant me. If I’m right, I’m totally Ok w/that Gerry.

  32. kranky kritter Says:

    You claim you have the only possible reading of the Second Amendment. That the first half is irrelevant because it must be irrelevant because you think it should be irrelevant.

    Hmm. Well, I can’t disagree with you that I am stating my opinion. But obviously I don’t think it’s the only one possible, as I have made copiously clearly previously by saying things like “it’s easy to interpret it as meaning… .”

    Grammatically you could be right. I could be right. But, given that this is a legal document, it would be rather stupid to include an irrelevant aside without labeling it as such. Therefore I conclude that it’s probably relevant, which means it’s a conditional clause.

    “Possibly relevant” I grant cheerfully. Conditional not so much.

    You claim the Amendment was always focused entirely on individual rights. That was always the main idea. But that is clearly not the case because of the language of the Amendment.

    I REALLY wish you’d be more reticent to attribute such absolutist positions (“focused entirely”) to me. I take great care to qualify my statements to make it clear I’m no absolutist. I realize that overstating the other guy’s position to make your argument sound better is stock in trade. I’m asking you to do better than that.

    Even if “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” was not intended as a conditional it must have some relation to the rest of the Amendment or it would not be included. Given that it’s a perfectly sensible justification for the second clause, and that the founders did not think it was necessary to include other explanations; it’s pretty difficult to believe the founders didn’t see this as (primarily) an attempt to protect state militias.

    I agree that it was included for a reason. It’s mentioned as one existing unobjectionable rationale, one among many closely related rationales that existed at the time, all under the broad and well understood category of the individual’s need for personal security, each American’s right to protect what was his: family, property, life. Don’t forget, it’s in the bill of rights, which was intended as a clarifying list of personal individual liberties.

    What I feel is missing from your interpretation is an appreciation of the mindset of the times. Again, banning firearms was an untenable idea, and the authors of the bill of rights knew this. You’re quite correct that the II lacks a full laundry list of plausible reasons for declaring that the right to bear arms could not be infringed upon. Perhaps if the authors had some inkling that the plain understanding of those time could become so eroded, they’d have included a full list of reasons. Or perhaps they were confident that because they hadn’t phrased the right as a conditional, it would endure undiminished.

    BTW, I have not responded to your claims on either the political reality of the day, or that it’s commonly understood as a right to bear arms. The first was true, but is irrelevant. At that time it would have been politically impossible for the Feds to regulate Acid Rain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

    I don’t get your acid rain argument at all. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. My argument on the political reality of the day is that politicians understood that banning firearms was an utterly untenable idea, and that the II was an acknowledgment which officially codified that understanding. It’s a promise that “we’ll never ban guns.” At the time, no one misunderstood this.

    The second is not entirely true. Many Americans think the Second Amendment is (at best) an ananochrism. They want assault weapons to be banned, for there to be strong laws against handguns, etc. It’s also irrelevant. Judges are not supposed to care what people outside the courtroom think. That’s their job, and the main reason they have lifetime appointments.

    Yeah, I basically agree with that. The common understanding upon which the II (and arguably much of the rest of the BoR) was based has indeed eroded. My point is that the BoR officially codified the common understanding which existed then, While many Americans have continued with the common original understanding that the II guarantees the right to bear, the modern era has seen the advent of some folks who think that the mention of militias provides a loophole, even though no scholarship exists clarifying that the authors wanted the II to include a loophole for revisitation at a later time when militias were not relevant. Whenever the common understanding of a constitutional right erodes and the public view evolves, there is a vehicle for revision: the amendment process.

    Basically, if 2/3 of the people think gun bans are ok, we can make the constitution say that, and that’ll be the new rule. IOf course, It’s a bit more detailed than that, but basically, that’s the existing threshold mechanism.

    For anyone who’s left wondering, let me make clear that I’m not in any sense a big gun guy. I don’t own any, didn’t grow up around them, am not an NRA member, and have no friends who are hunters or firearms buffs. Instead it’s the case that I find the constitutional argument of the pro-right to bear folks much more convincing. The argument that the authors of the II intended gun bearing to be conditional upon militia participation are in my view an example of wishful modern revisionism. I have never seen ANY supporting context from the time of the authorship that suggests that it was intended for the II to include a loophole by which guns could be banned.

    Further, I am very unconvinced that banning firearms achieves anything resembling the well meant intentions of gun banners. Gun bans don’t seem to have meaningfully curtailed American gun violence. That Europe’s combination of culture and laws has had different results does not seem to me to be strongly suggestive of what Americans can expect to experience.

  33. kranky kritter Says:

    Presumably Roberts et al. will find some BS justification for allowing all gun bans their masters in the GOP support, but in a world where the Court changes the Constitution on a 5-4 vote is not a world in which any ruling will last.

    Masters? BS justification? So you think that Roberts and Alito are not thinking for themselves, and that they are ungenuine in their intellectual conviction about what the 2nd amendment means?

    That’s a very sad expression of bias against all conservative thought which doesn’t accord with your world view. It’s not enough that such folks are wrong, or incorrect, or mistaken? It also has to be true that they conspire by any means necessary to reach their ends?

    How much of a total lack of understanding of human nature does it take to suggest that folks like Roberts and Alito, who have devoted their lives to understanding the law, are nothing more than obedient toadies who lack the scruples to uphold vows which they made before God?

    Open question to everyone…why is it so very insufficient to accept that some folks can believe differently, yet with equally heartfelt conviction as you? Why must those with a different world view also be seen as conspiring unscrupulously to reach their ends by any means?

    I’ve been so well served over time by declining to attribute actions to malice when ignorance or stupidity can provide sufficient explanation. But this truly powerful anger-saver of a perspective just doesn’t seem to catch on with hardly anyone.

    Justin, I’ll repeat my offer: make me a poster and I can promise 3 posts per week at least until I find a job. Though I doubt Gerry meant me. Failing that, a once weekly open thread is a good idea in any event. Although, without posts, traffic will dwindle with or without an open thread. Nick, don’t you have thread-starter privileges?

  34. kranky kritter Says:

    @WHQ Am I misreading you to think that when you say

    My thinking is that the right to keep and bear arms is not a fundamental right, but one that supports fundamental rights. So long as those fundamental rights are sufficiently supported by one’s right to keep and bear arms, there is no infringement.

    that you are suggesting that the right to bear is protected as a suitable means towards the end of self-protection, protection of family and property etc. etc.?

    That’s the way I look at it. I sure don’t view gun ownership as any sort of intrinsically holy thing. But protection of me and mine, or you and yours? Fundamental stuff. I don’t choose personally to exercise that right, but I’m glad I have it. And I understand and appreciate that for many Americans it feels very important to exercise it.

    My main question is this: If you have reasonable legal access to a reasonable variety of legally useful firearms, can your right to keep and bear arms be said to be infringed?

    This gets at the question of bans. Is a ban on one type or model of firearm (or some number of types or models) an infringement if there remains a reasonable variety of other types or models legally available for purchase and use? Is, for example, a ban on AK-47s, in and of itself, an infringement on the right to keep and bear arms?

    I’d say that the courts have consistently acknowledged the necessity of reasonable regulation. It can of course be argued by an uber-2nd-amendment type that any restriction represents an infringement, but precedents seem to have have clearly established that the kinds of things you mention are within the realm of acceptability.

    So I’d answer yes. If existing laws allow sane law-abiding individuals a reasonable range of opportunities to own firearms and employ/deploy them in sensible ways for self-protection, then in the court’s consistent and long-standing view, your right to bear hasn’t been unreasonably infringed.

    As you say, the devil would of course be in the details. Theoretically it would make sense. But in practice there’d be great difficulty drawing the lines. And one can imagine a creep over time where the variety of options might be progressively curtained to the point where the gap between what is allowed to citizens and what is allowed to government could grow greater and greater. A thought which many folks would find troubling.

  35. WHQ Says:

    @WHQ Am I misreading you to think that when you say…

    Not at all. That’s pretty much the thrust of it.

  36. kranky kritter Says:

    Here;s an example of a great topic for donklephant

    GOP lawmaker defeated in primary says party is letting fearmongers set tone

    I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading,” he said. “What it takes to lead is to say, ‘You know, that’s just not right.’” Inglis said the rhetoric also distracts from the real problems that politicians should be trying to resolve, such as budget deficits and energy security.

    “It’s a real concern, because I think what we’re doing is dividing the country into partisan camps that really look a lot like Shia and Sunni,” he said, referring to the two predominant Islamic denominations that have feuded for centuries. “It’s very difficult to come together to find solutions.”

    Inglis’ refusal to join in on the Obama-bashing of the far right played a big role in his landslide defeat on June 22. Leading up to the election, he frequently challenged voters who questioned the president’s citizenship or patriotism. At one town hall meeting, he was jeered for saying that Beck, a Fox News Channel host, is a divisive fearmonger.

    I hope we see a trend where guys like this find ways to stay involved as independent voices of reason. Here’s a guy who I’d consider letting lead, because he won’t head us over the white cliffs of anger.

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