Friday, July 26, 2013

Development of Self Defense , U.S. Supreme Court

From 1893 to 1896, the United States Supreme Court handed down a series of decisions involving self-defense and the carrying and use of firearms for self- defense. These cases laid the foundation for a 1921 opinion, authored by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, that became the most important armed self- defense case in American legal history, upholding and extending the right to armed self-defense. In these Self-Defense Cases, the Supreme Court fought out a bitter confrontation with Federal District Judge Isaac Parker, the presiding judge in all but one of the cases, and a judge who is much admired today by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. [FN1]

Until the 1960s, the 1893-96 period was the Supreme Court's greatest period of activism against capital sentences. The Self-Defense Cases raise the issues that are still important as our judiciary enters the Twenty-First Century: accusations that appellate judges who reverse capital convictions are "soft on crime" and use "technicalities" to mask their personal opposition to the death penalty, the limits of how far appellate judges can go in restraining a zealous trial judge, whether ethnic minorities or uneducated people can receive a fair trial or a fair appeal, and the scope of the right to use deadly force for protection. An additional issue is whether *295 narrowing the right of self-defense is an advance for civilization or an assault on civil liberty. As we wrestle with all of these issues today, it would be wise for us to study how an earlier generation of judges dealt with these questions.

Detailed Academic Article on Self Defense Here

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