The Bush administration’s position in the Supreme Court case on Washington, D.C.’ s handgun ban has disappointed gun enthusiasts and created implications for the presidential campaign, the Washington Post reports. The brief by U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement endorses the view that the Second Amendment conveys an individual right to gun ownership but it said an appeals court used the wrong standard when it struck down the ban. The U.S. urged the Supreme Court to return the case to the lower court.
That view could mean additional years of litigation and could undo a ruling that was a seminal victory for gun rights advocates. A conservative Web site said the administration had “blundered in catastrophic fashion.” Presidential candidate ex-Sen. Fred Thompson accused the Justice Department of “overlawyering” the issue. David Kopel of the libertarian Cato Institute said President Bush was elected in part because of gun rights activists and that “the citizen activists would never have spent all those hours volunteering for a candidate whose position on the constitutionality of a handgun ban was ‘maybe.’ ” Sanford Levinson, a liberal University of Texas constitutional scholar who believes the Second Amendment protects individual rights, called the Bush position “a gift to the Democratic Party” and urged his party’s presidential candidates to embrace it.