Miller, Colt .45s and Natural Law

That is the title of another excellent piece on Heller and its effects over at SCOTUSblog written by David Kopel. This observation particularly interested me:

One aspect of the Heller majority opinion that has not yet attracted the attention of commentariat, but may be greatly important of the long run, is the presence of natural law.

Heller reaffirms a point made in the 1876 Cruikshank case. The right to arms (unlike, say, the right to grand jury indictment) is not a right which is granted by the Constitution. It is a pre-existing natural right which is recognized and protected by the Constitution:

“it has always been widely understood that the Second Amendment, like the First and Fourth Amendments, codified a pre-existing right. The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it ’shall not be infringed.’ As we said in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876), “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed…”

and a bit further down…

Heller moves self-defense from the shadowy limbo of the Ninth Amendment into the bright uplands of the Second Amendment. It is now beyond dispute, in an American court, that self-defense is an inherent right, and that it is protected by the United States Constitution.

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