An introduction to Constitutional Law 100 Supreme Court cases everyone should know

Randy E. Barnett & Josh Blackman

In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms in the home for purposes of self-defense. However, Heller only considered whether the Second Amendment restricts federal gun-control laws. Immediately after Heller was decided, Otis McDonald and other Chicago residents challenged ordinances that effectively banned handgun possession in the city. McDonald v. Chicago (2010) considered whether the Second Amendment restricts the state’s police powers to enact gun-control laws.

The vote in this case was complicated. A plurality of four Justices—Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Alito—found that the Second Amendment was a “fundamental right,” which should be incorporated through the Due Process Clause.

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