What Can The Judiciary Expect In the Next Three Years

With the newest addition to the Arizona Supreme Court, Justice John Pelander, (a University of Arizona alumni) having his investiture ceremony last week, I couldn’t help but think toward the future of the United States Supreme Court.

Obama has already placed one Justice on the Court – Justice Sotomayor. Before his term ends, at least two more will secure his judicial legacy. Justice Stevens, already 89, will likely be the next one to retire. This year, he only hired one law clerk rather than the four he has customarily taken. Stevens is also considered to be the most liberal justice on the bench.

But if Stevens remains, the next probable candidate is Ginsburg. Nominated by Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg has been plagued with health issues – colorectal cancer in 1999, pancreatic cancer in 2009 and a brief hospitalization this past September.

The retirement of these two justice will not affect the dichotomy of the Court. Both Ginsburg and Stevens form part of the liberal-leaning block and Obama will certainly appoint two more with younger judges with similar ideologies.

However, the court still remains in delicate balance between conservatives and liberals.

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How Far Does the Second Amendment Reach?

That’s the question the Supreme Court will answer next year in McDonald vs. Chicago.

Aside from the District of Colombia prior to 2008, Chicago’s extensive restrictions on firearms led many to suspect that the city’s ban on such weapons was also unconstitutional in the wake of D.C. v. Heller. Unsurprisingly, several Chicago citizens backed by the Illinois State Rifle Association brought suit against the city challenging the ordinances as violations of the Second and Fourteenth Amendment. Specifically, the case challenges the ordinances:

  1. Banning the registration of handguns, thus effecting a broad handgun ban;
  2. Requiring that guns be registered prior to their acquisition by Chicago residents, which is not always feasible;
  3. Mandating that guns be re-registered on an annual basis, including the payment of what amounts to an annual tax on the exercise of Second Amendment rights;
  4. and Rendering any gun permanently non-registerable if its registration lapses

The City of Chicago prevailed both in the district court and in the Seventh Circuit. How the Supreme Court will rule remains unresolved.

Will the Second Amendment be incorporated against the States? Will the Slaughterhouse cases of 1873 be overturned? What implications will this have to the rest of the Bill of Rights?

Stay tuned.

Petition for cert here.