WA State Supreme Court holds 2nd Amendment applies to states

In a case brought on a matter of a minor found in possession of a firearm during a routine traffic stop, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington has ruled, by a commanding margin, that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States most certainly applies to the actions of state governments. From the decision in State c. Sieyes:

Pursuant to Duncan the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms from state interference through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  This right is necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty and fundamental to the American scheme of justice.

While this is a state-level finding (a case before the Supreme Court of the United States is asking the SCOTUS to make a similar ruling at a national level, something supported by a majority of the states’ governments) it is significant for a couple of reasons. First, it is relying on many of the arguments that are being made to the Supreme Court and it views those arguments through the lens of analysis and conclusions made by SCOTUS in the past. It is certainly indicative of the logical assessment of the arguments being advanced there. Second, and probably even more compelling, the WA Supreme Court concluded there was no reason whatsoever that state courts were required to wait for a SCOTUS decision on the matter to make such a determination:

Although the Heller Court did not expressly consider incorporation of the right to bear arms, “that need not stop the rest of us.” Sanford Levinson, Comment, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L.J. 637, 653-54 (1989).  Lower courts need not wait for the Supreme Court to apply Duncan; the Constitution is the rule of all courts — both state and federal judiciaries wield power to strike down unconstitutional government acts. 7  U.S. Const. art. VI, cl. 2; Nelson Lund, Anticipating Second Amendment Incorporation: The Role of Inferior Courts, 59 Syracuse L. Rev. 185 (2008).  We must ourselves determine whether the Second Amendment is incorporated.

Emphasis mine. There is certainly no rule that says that a State may not consider provisions of the US Constitution to be incorporated against its own actions unless SCOTUS says it is. It may not disregard such a finding by SCOTUS and consider a provision held incorporated as not being incorporated, of course. But there’s nothing that says it can’t hold itself to the federal-level standard if it finds such to be lawful and compelling. This is what WA did in this case. I applaud their actions and analysis and I look forward to seeing this play out in the Supreme Court case later this year.

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