Vice President Cheney signed a brief filed by a majority of Congress that urged the Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that Washington, D.C.,’s handgun ban is unconstitutional, reports the Washington Post. The move was a break with his own administration’s position. Cheney joined 55 senators and 250 House members asking the court to find that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms and to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the D.C. ban violates that right. The Bush administration angered gun rights advocates when it suggested that the justices return the case to lower courts for further review.
To make his dramatic break with the administration, Cheney signed the brief as “President of the United States Senate, Richard B. Cheney.” It is a position he has used at times to make the point that he is sometimes part of the legislative branch and sometimes part of the executive. Lawyers said it may be unprecedented for a vice president to take a position in a case before the high court that is at odds with one the Justice Department puts forward as the administration’s position.