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‘Scalia Would be Proud’: Judge Cites Antonin Scalia in Upholding ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey declared victory Friday in a federal court decision which upholds what she described as the state’s “assault weapons” ban:

The ban, the tweet said, covers “the AR-15 and other assault weapons.” Federal District Court Judge William G. Young, who was appointed to the bench by none other than the conservative Ronald Reagan, channeled none other than the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in ruling that the ban did not violate the Second Amendment and, therefore, was constitutional. The end of Judge Young’s opinion reads as follows:

The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to “bear Arms.”

Both their general acceptance and their regulation, if any, are policy matters not for courts, but left to the people directly through their elected representatives. In the absence of federal legislation, Massachusetts is free to ban these weapons and large capacity magazines. Other states are equally free to leave them unregulated and available to their law-abiding citizens. These policy matters are simply not of constitutional moment. Americans are not afraid of bumptious, raucous, and robust debate about these matters. We call it democracy.

Justice Scalia would be proud.

Reaction to the decision on Twitter was swift:

Not everyone disagreed with the move, however:

We’re still reading through the federal district judge’s opinion, but we’re pretty sure some people are going to be suffering from a serious case of cognitive dissonance over what we have read thus far.

[Photo of Justice Scalia by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.]

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Aaron Keller is an attorney licensed in two states. He holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University. During law school, he completed legal residencies in the Office of the New Hampshire Attorney General and in a local prosecutor’s office. He was employed as a summer associate in the New Hampshire Department of Safety, which manages the state police, and further served as a summer law clerk for a New York trial judge. Before law school, Keller worked for television stations in New York and in the Midwest, mostly as an evening news anchor and investigative reporter. His original reporting on the Wisconsin murder of Teresa Halbach was years later featured in the Netflix film "Making A Murderer."