Three cases are going before the Missouri Supreme Court today, 27 October, 2015, to determine if the Court will uphold Amendment 5, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of the people last year. The cases seem quite clear. They are prosecutions of people who have non-violent felony convictions. Lower courts have ruled that Amendment 5 meant what it said in its clear language.
The City of St. Louis claims that it really does not... because... guns! The Missouri constitution is now clear. Judges are not allowed wiggle room to declare that a right only applies in a few rare circumstances, or that some fuzzy state purpose overrides the right. Here is the amendment that passed last year. Bold added for emphasis. From komo.com:
"Section 23. That the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms, ammunition, and accessories typical to the normal function of such arms, in defense of his home, person, family and property, or when lawfully summoned in aid of the civil power, shall not be questioned. The rights guaranteed by this section shall be unalienable. Any restriction on these rights shall be subject to strict scrutiny and the state of Missouri shall be obligated to uphold these rights and shall under no circumstances decline to protect against their infringement. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the general assembly from enacting general laws which limit the rights of convicted violent felons or those adjudicated by a court to be a danger to self or others as result of a mental disorder or mental infirmity.The City's arguments are essentially: Guns are bad. More guns result in more bad things. People who commit felonies are more likely to commit more felonies. Therefore keeping them from having guns is a good thing. The Supreme Court can do this because, well, because no one can stop you. Link to City brief (pdf) here.
The State's arguments are these: The Amendment means what it says. It differentiates between violent and non-violent felonies. The current law covers all felonies, therefore it is not tailored to the Constitutional requirements, and should be struck down. The Court has the authority and the duty to uphold the will of the people as expressed in the amendment. Link to State brief (pdf) here.
The ACLU of Missouri has come out on the side of upholding Amendment 5.
Here is the opening paragraph of their argument:
The federal constitution provides the floor, not the ceiling, for the liberty that is guaranteed to citizens against state governments. Even prior to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment—that is, before the Bill of Rights was incorporated to the States—the framers of Missouri’s Constitution and the voters of this State chose to enact a constitutional provision insuring an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. Missouri has never mirrored the language of the Second Amendment.Missouri ACLU brief (pdf) at this link.
At the core of the "violent felon" wording of Amendment 5 is the proliferation of felonies in the United States. It has resulted in this backlash. Nearly everyone in the country commits multiple felonies, whether they want to or not. There are simply far too many laws on the books. Amendment 5 attempts, in part, to restrain the liberties that are lost as the result of this proliferation of felonies.
Little is quite as corrosive of the rule of law and faith in the legitimacy of the government as a Court claiming that an amendment to the Consitution, duly passed by the electorate, is invalid. It strikes to the heart of the idea of the consent of the governed, one of the key principles the United States is founded on.
That the consent of the governed is under assault is not too surprising; one of the core beliefs of "elitists" faith is that it is up to the elite to "manufacture" such consent. In the "elitists" view of reality, the elite decide what the electorate should vote for, then the electorate is supposed to vote for it. If it does not, it is up to the elite to "correct" the "error". The Second Amendment is one of the "errors" that the current governing elite wants to "correct". It remains to be seen if the Missouri Supreme Court will bow to the will of the people, or to the self framed "elite".
©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Link to Gun Watch