McDonald v. Chicago


May a state or local government ban possession of handguns in light of the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms?


The 2008 Supreme Court case Heller v. District of Columbia ruled that Washington D.C. gun control laws that effectively banned the possession of handguns violated an individual’s Second Amendment right to self-defense. Petitioners, Otis McDonald, et al. (“McDonald”), challenge the constitutionality of Respondent’s, City of Chicago’s (“Chicago”), gun control laws, arguing that they are similar to Heller’s. After Heller, the federal government cannot prohibit the possession of handguns in the home. This case raises the question of whether the same restriction applies to state governments. McDonald argues that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right that states should not be able to infringe. Chicago argues that states should be able to tailor firearm regulation to local conditions. The outcome of this case will affect the ability of states to regulate the possession of handguns in their jurisdictions and could have far-reaching effects on long-held conceptions of federalism.

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is incorporated as against the States by the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities or Due Process Clauses.

The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” U.S. Const. Amend. II. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S.Ct.

Edited by 


Additional Resources 

Associated Press, Mark Sherman: Ban Handguns? Supreme Court Taking A New Look (Sept. 30, 2009)

CNN, Bill Mears: Justices Take On Potentially Landmark Gun Rights Cases (Sept. 30, 2009)

New York Times, Adam Liptak: Justices Will Weigh Challenges to Gun Laws, N.Y. Times (Sept. 30, 2009)

Submit for publication 


Fourteenth Amendment


The Fourteenth Amendment contains a number of important concepts, most famously state action, privileges & immunities, citizenship, due process, and equal protection—all of which are contained in Section One.  However, the Fourteenth Amendment contains four other sections.  Section Two deals with the apportionment of representatives to Congress.  Section Three forbids a


McBurney v. Young

The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (“VFOIA”) states that “all public records shall be open to inspection and copying by any citizen of the Commonwealth.” Va.Code Ann. § 2.2-3704(A). Petitioners Mark McBurney and Roger Hurlbert made VFOIA requests and were denied because they are not citizens of Virginia. After being denied, Petitioners filed a complaint against the respondents, the agencies which denied their VFOIA requests, with the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Petitioners argued that the VFOIA’s citizens-only provision violated their rights under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and Hurlbert’s rights under the dormant Commerce Clause. The District Court granted summary judgment for the agencies, which was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Petitioners now appeal, arguing that Virginia’s citizens-only restriction violates the dormant Commerce Clause because it discriminates against out-of state economic interests both facially and in effect, and also violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause because it creates an inequality in access to information. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will impact whether a state is required allow all United States citizens to access their public records. 

Questions as Framed for the Court by the Parties 

Whether, under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of  Article IV and the dormant Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, a state my preclude citizens of other states from enjoying the same right of access to public records that the state affords its own citizens?


Edited by 

Submit for publication