Court Cases



  • 1803 ts first truly significant case, the Supreme Court asserted its
    power to overturn laws of Congress with the ruling written by our great
    Chief Justice John Marshall, which said simply: “All laws repugnant to
    the Constitution are null and void.” (Marbury v Madison, 5 US 137 (l803)
  • 1895 the Supreme Court ruled that individuals have a right to
    possess and use firearms for self-defense. (Beard v United States, 158
    US 550)
  • 1897 the court ruled that the right to arms is an “ancient”
    and “fundamental” right, a right which was “inherited from our English
    ancestors” and has existed “from time immemorial.” (Robertson v
    Baldwin, 165 US 275)
  • l914 the court ruled by implication that even resident aliens
    have the right to possess “weapons such as pistols that may be supposed
    to be needed occasionally for self-defense.” (Patsone v Pensylvania,
    232 US 138)
  • l921 the Supreme Court decided that a person facing a deadly
    attack may use lethal force in his self-defense, adding: “Detached
    reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife.”
    (Brown v United States 256 US 335)
  • 1939 the Supreme court ruled that when called for militia duty,
    “these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves
    and of the kind in common use at the time.” (U.S. v Miller, 307 US 174)
  • l968 the court ruled that a convicted felon is exempt from
    obeying gun registration laws, that “a proper claim of the
    constitutional privileged against self-incrimination provides a full
    defense to prosecutions either for failure to register a firearm….or
    for possession of an unregistered firearm.” (Haynes v US 390 US 85)
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  • l990, the Supreme Court ruled that the term “the people”
    explicitly as used in the Second and other Amendments, in the Preamble,
    and elsewhere in the Constitution, meaning all the individuals who make
    up our national community. (U.S. v Verdugo-Urguidez, No. 88-1353)
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  • “The United States is entirely a creature of the Constitution. Its
    power and authority have no other source. It can only act in accordance
    with all the limitations imposed by the Constitution.” (Reid v Covert,
    354 US l (1957)

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