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Reason Foundation

Reason Alert: The Supreme Court and Second Amendment Rights

Plus Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings and what scientific consensus means

June 30, 2010

- Four Supreme Court Justices Make the Case Against Constitutional Rights
- Elena Kagan and Confirmation Theater
- Climate Change and Scientific Consensus
- Figuring Out What the Government Owns
- New at Reason  

Four Supreme Court Justices Make the Case Against Constitutional Rights
"On Monday the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment applies to states and cities as well as the federal government. Judging from their objections, the four dissenters were still reeling from the Court's landmark 2008 decision recognizing that the amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.  In their dissenting opinions, Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer (joined by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor) worry that overturning gun control laws undermines democracy. If 'the people' want to ban handguns, they say, 'the people' should be allowed to implement that desire through their elected representatives. What if the people want to ban books that offend them, establish an official church, or authorize police to conduct warrantless searches at will? Those options are also foreclosed by constitutional provisions that apply to the states by way of the 14th Amendment. The crucial difference between a pure democracy and a constitutional democracy like ours is that sometimes the majority does not decide." - Reason magazine's Jacob Sullum on Second Amendment rights
Libertarians Respond to McDonald v. Chicago
Justice John Paul Stevens Is Wrong About Gun Rights, Again

Elena Kagan and Confirmation Theater
Reason magazine's Radley Balko writes, "The confirmation process has morphed into political theater designed to keep us as much in the dark about prospective Supreme Court nominees as possible. And according to Beltway conventional wisdom, that's exactly the way it ought to be...Kagan now plans to decline comment on any issue that might bear in any way on any case that might come before the Court. She'll do her absolute best to prevent any serious substantive inquiry into her beliefs, and she'll make it clear that it's neither legitimate or desirable for the Senate to insist on exploring her set of constitutional views and commitments. If we aren't permitted to look at her record in public office as an indication of how Kagan might balance government power with individual rights, we're left to judge her on this: Kagan recognizes that the confirmation process is a charade designed to keep information away from the public, and to prevent the public from forming an informed opinion about who will sit on the Supreme Court. And she's chosen to participate in it anyway."
Will Elena Kagan Be Any Better Than Justice Stevens?
Will Kagan Allow Books to be Banned?

Climate Change and Scientific Consensus
Reason magazine Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey explains that the "scientific consensus" has been wrong numerous times before: "So what to make of this increase in the use of the concept of scientific consensus? After all, several scientific consensuses before 1985 turned out to be wrong or exaggerated, e.g., saccharin, dietary fiber, fusion reactors, stratospheric ozone depletion, and even arguably acid rain and high-dose animal testing for carcinogenicity. One reasonable response might be that anthropogenic climate change is different from the cited examples because much more research has been done. And yet. One should always keep in mind that a scientific consensus crucially determines and limits the questions researchers ask. And one should always worry about to what degree supporters of any given scientific consensus risk succumbing to confirmation bias. In any case, the credibility of scientific research is not ultimately determined by how many researchers agree with it or how often it is cited by like-minded colleagues, but whether or not it conforms to reality."

Figuring Out What the Government Owns
Two new Reason Foundation studies highlight how little our governments, at all levels, actually know about the land and property they own. The reports show how the government can develop useful online inventory systems that identify surplus property and save taxpayers money.
Knowing What the Federal Government Owns
Knowing What State and Local Governments Own

New at Reason

Robert Poole: The Truth About Toll Roads and Non-Compete Agreements

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Nick Gillespie: Libertarians Write Their Own Invitation to the Party

Let's Not Forget Sen. Byrd's Negative Legacy

How Will States Keep Health Insurance Premiums Down If They Can't Order Insurers to Operate at a Loss?

Deficit-Reduction Doubts: ObamaCare's Additional Costs

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