Sunday, January 31, 2010
The Chicago Tribune today profiled Otis McDonald, the lead plaintiff in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the Second Amendment incorporation case now before the Supreme Court. We've posted on the case, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It's scheduled for oral argument on March 2.
McDonald is a 76-year-old Chicago resident who says he needs to carry a handgun for personal protection and self-defense. After agreeing to serve as lead plaintiff--and on instructions from his attorney--he sought to register his .22 Beretta pistol with the Chicago police. The police denied his application, citing the city's 28-year-old handgun ban, and he sued.
According to the story, McDonald's compelling personal background and legitimate reason for wanting to carry a handgun made him a good pick for lead plaintiff. But the story cites constitutional law experts as suggesting another reason: McDonald is black. According to one source, this may "help us remember [the] history" of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Tribune: "In the Hellerdecision, Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, referred to that chapter in history, arguing that those who had opposed disarmament of freedmen did so with the understanding that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to own a gun for self-defense."
This story is a good complement to lessons on incorporation, the Second Amendment, and even constitutional litigation generally, reminding us that so many of these disputes come to the Court as carefully engineered cases, not as accidents.