During an appearance yesterday on “Fox News Sunday,” Justice Antonin Scalia, notably one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most conservative justices, discussed recent decisions concerning ObamaCare, the case involving Arizona’s SB1070 and gun control.
By far the biggest takeaway of the interview was when the Justice said that the Second Amendment leaves room for U.S. legislatures to regulate guns, including hand-held weapons.
“It will have to be decided in future cases,” Scalia, 76, told host Chris Wallace. He said there were legal precedents from the days of the Founding Fathers that banned “frightening weapons” which a constitutional originalist such as he must recognize. There were also “locational limitations” on where weapons could be carried, Scalia noted.
When asked if that kind of precedent would apply to assault weapons, or 100-round ammunition magazines like those used in the recent Colorado movie theater massacre, Scalia mused, saying “We’ll see. It will have to be decided.”
As an originalist scholar, Scalia looks to the text of the Constitution — which confirms the right to bear arms — but also the context of 18th-century history. “They had some limitations on the nature of arms that could be borne,” he told Wallace.
During the interview, Scalia held fast to his criticism of Chief Justice John Roberts and the majority opinion in the ruling that upheld ObamaCare. Scalia defended his dissent, made along with Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy, that the health care mandate is unconstitutional. He criticized the concept that the mandate is constitutional because of Congress’s taxing power, saying, “There was no way to regard this as a tax. It simply does not bear that meaning.”
In his dissent on Arizona’s SB1070 case, Scalia, the longest serving justice wrote, “To say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of the Immigration Act that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.”
The entire transcript of the interview can be read here.