Second Amendment: A Fundamental Freedom or Time for Repeal?

Jake Neher/WDET

This week, former justice of the United States Supreme Court John Paul Stevens wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times calling for a repeal of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

He writes: “Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “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. Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.”

Justice Stevens was a registered Republican before he was named to the highest court in the land by then-President Gerald Ford. He served on the court from 1975 until his retirement in 2010.

How does Stevens view the amendments of the Constitution, and what leads to such a bold call from a leading legal mind?  

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Jamal Greene, a professor of law at Columbia Law School. Greene clerked for Justice Stevens during his career in the Supreme Court.

My initial reaction is to not be that surprised,” says Greene, who notes Stevens wrote a dissenting opinion in 2008 that argued that the Second Amendment did not protect individuals’ right to firearms. Instead, he said in the opinion that the amendment protects states’ right to have a militia. 

But I guess we’re not so used to retired Supreme Court justices trying to strike things out of the bill of rights,” Green continues.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Jake Neher/WDET


Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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