The Elephant in the Room

'A Well-regulated Militia'

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An associate justice of the Supreme Court died on the eve of a challenge to the standing interpretation of the Second Amendment.

President Gloria Addison sought a replacement who shared her view of the amendment.

She believed she had found the right man in Randolph Cavendish of Rhode Island, although many considered him an independent-minded jurist.

Supporters of the amendment’s ‘individual right’ clause concluded the president wanted Cavendish on the Court to restrict gun ownership, and they conspired to stop her.

Addison proved to be wrong about Justice Cavendish. His political philosophy proved more important to him than being the White House’s man on the court.

Cavendish’s seeming betrayal of the president left her with options she couldn’t have imagined when her political career began in a small Indiana town. How far would she go to get what she wanted? And how far her enemies?

In the ongoing struggle over gun rights no one was safe, not the president, not Justice Cavendish, and not Congress.

FROM THE BOOK:

 

OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

 

Memorandum

 

TO: President Gloria Addison

FROM: Simon Jordan, Attorney General

CC: Sean McKinnon, Chief of Staff to the President; Moira Stewart, Chief of Staff to the Attorney General

SUBJECT: Second Amendment talking points

 

Madam President: A quick reminder at the outset. I expect Judge Cavendish to tell you that any discussion between the two of you on this topic is inappropriate. I also have no doubt you will have an adequate response.

In general, the debate over guns runs along a familiar vein of American history: the interest of the individual versus the interest of the community, which we pretend are not entwined. We create contrasts, I believe, to empower one party over another with no acknowledgment of the symbiotic relationship between the individual and the collective.

American political parties, which are more alike than not, thrive on false dichotomies; you are not supposed to like the other guys, and gals, and so, you don’t.

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Wishful thinkers say the Founders were too intelligent to have made a suicide pact of the Constitution. I’m afraid, however, they did. I think of it as the illogic of the Constitution. The first attempted suicide nearly succeeded between 1861 and 1865, thanks to the myopic vision of the Founders who decided, to get their Constitution ratified, the country could survive with slavery.

We now find ourselves on the precipice of another civil war, one that will still be based on geography but far more deadly than the first. This time there will be no Lincoln to save us from ourselves.

 

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.

 

Consider the following:

1. The Second Amendment is unclear to some, a problem of disambiguation, to use a word from Justice Allen’s dissent in Hendricks, and that’s the problem. While stating the need for a ‘well-regulated Militia,’ does it guarantee, as a separate matter, the right of individuals (people) to ‘keep and bear arms’? Doesn’t the second clause depend on the first? That would seem to be the central conundrum.