In a legal decision that included bad news for both sides, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans yesterday reversed a lower court’s decision, declaring that a defendant’s Second Amendment rights were not violated, while simultaneously criticizing reasoning the government used in prosecuting the man.
The court strongly rejected U.S. Justice Department lawyers’ argument that the constitutional right to bear arms is not an individual right but a right of states only.
A court spokesman confirmed to WorldNetDaily that the three-judge panel’s decision included remanding the case of Timothy Joe Emerson back to the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas.
On March 30, 1999, U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings agreed with Emerson’s claims that his arrest while under a restraining order from his estranged wife was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment, among others.
Emerson was charged with a violation of federal statutes prohibiting a person under such an order from possessing a firearm.
Justice Department lawyers argued that under previous Supreme Court rulings, the Second Amendment did not guarantee an individual right to keep and bear arms. Instead, government lawyers claimed the right belonged to states only and applied to the raising and arming of militias or today’s equivalent, the National Guard.
“We conclude … that [previous Supreme Court cases] do not support the government’s collective rights or sophisticated collective rights approach to the Second Amendment,” the Fifth Circuit wrote. “Nor does the government cite any other authority binding on this panel which mandates acceptance of its position in this respect.”
“There is no evidence in the text of the Second Amendment, or any other part of the Constitution, that the words ‘the people’ have a different connotation within the Second Amendment than when employed elsewhere in the Constitution,” the appeals panel wrote. “In fact, the text of the Constitution, as a whole, strongly suggests that the words ‘the people’ have precisely the same meaning within the Second Amendment as without.”
However, the court also rejected Emerson’s position that his Second, Fifth and Tenth Amendment rights were violated.
No date for a new lower court hearing was given.