05 April 2008

Consource & Heller

Alright all you Constitutionally-inclined readers, here's the Heller update for which you've all been waiting. Most of it is straight from our monthly ConSource update email. ConSource, you'll recall, is the effort to collect, digitize and make available all the primary source documents related to the creation of the Constitution. For the last 2+ years we've "consulted" for our friend Matt Berry, one of ConSource's founders.


On March 18, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Heller v. District of Columbia, otherwise known as the D.C. gun ban case. Though the Second Amendment has been a source of much debate, there has not been a significant Supreme Court case on the subject in over 70 years. More, Heller provides the Court its first opportunity to decide whether the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.

Most importantly for the project, documents found on ConSource have played a role in the case. Because the Court is reviewing an issue of first impression, both sides have turned to sources from the Framing to decipher the intent of the Second Amendment's obscure wording: 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. References and debates pre-dating the Second Amendment are found in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, State Ratification Debates, and the Legislative History of the Bill of Rights, all available at www.ConSource.org. Links to the documents on ConSource detailing the history of the Second Amendment's creation and reviewed by the parties in Heller are provided at the bottom of this e-mail. To highlight the part of the document that relates to either clause in the Second Amendment, please use the Constitutional Index found on the right-hand side of each document's webpage.

To read a blog written by Judge Paul Cassel on the Volokh Conspiracy about ConSource'’s role in Heller, please click here.

(ed. note: Spikers, we know Volokh is a UCLA guy, hopefully, as an SC guy, you can look past that.)

Related Second Amendment Documents on ConSource.org

The United States Constitution:

Bill of Rights, Amendments I-X

Federalist Papers:

Federalist 4

Federalist 29

Anti-Federalist and Pro-Federalist Papers:

The Dissent of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention
(December 18, 1787)

Ratification Debates:

Journal Notes of the Virginia Ratification Convention Proceedings
(June 27, 1788)

Journal Notes of the Massachusetts Ratification Convention Proceedings, A.M. (February 6, 1788)

Alexander J. Dallas’ Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention P.M. (December 12, 1787)

Legislative History of the Bill of Rights:

Bill of Rights’ Drafts and Votes

Madison's Resolution for Amendments to the Constitution (June 8, 1789)

House Committee Report (July 28, 1789)

Amendments Proposed by the Virginia Convention (June 27, 1789)

Articles of Amendments, As Agreed to by the Senate (September 14, 1789)

Amendments to the Constitution
(September 28, 1789)

Debates in the House of Representatives

The Congressional Register (August 17, 1789)

The Congressional Register (August 21, 1789)

Newspaper Report of the House of Representatives Debates on August 20, 1789 (August 22, 1789)

Letters of the Framers:

John Randolph to St. George Tucker (September 11, 1789)

George Mason to John Lamb
(June 09, 1788)

Jeremy Belknap to Paine Wingate (May 29, 1789

Fisher Ames to Thomas Dwight (June 11, 1789)

Fisher Ames to George R. Minot (June 12, 1789)


This case is a perfect example of the usefulness of ConSource. If you are so able, we recommend you make a donation to ConSource to help support their efforts.

If you have tips, questions, comments, suggestions, or requests for subscription only articles, email us at lybberty@gmail.com.

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