A Dictionary, the Second Amendment and the Unconstitutional Flycatcher



By Mr. Curmudgeon:

Friday, the Community-Organizer-in-Chief, who taught Constitutional Law at Harvard, got a lesson in the true meaning of the document from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C., Circuit. Here’s an opening phrase from the court’s opinion declaring as unconstitutional President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress was still in session: “When interpreting a constitutional provision,” said the court, “we must look to the natural meaning of the text as it would have been understood at the time of the ratification of the Constitution.” The appellate court cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling as precedent.

I could not help but notice the mainstream media missed that little tidbit in their recounting of the appellate court’s declaring their Oval Office pal an enemy of the Constitution. You see, the Heller decision was a Second Amendment case in which the high court affirmed the “right to bear arms” as an unalienable, individual right.

First, let’s read the Second Amendment as written: “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.” It’s the Amendment’s “well-regulated Militia” portion Progressive gun-grabbers have always seized upon. They insist the Second Amendment concerns the right of military personnel (state and federal) to possess arms … not free individuals.

Writing for the majority, Antonin Scalia’s brilliant Heller opinion goes for the throat of Progressive jurisprudential skulduggery, which attempts to amend the Constitution by redefining words, a trick that goes by the name “deconstructionism.”

Scalia disposed of that nonsense quickly: “Three provisions of the Constitution refer to ‘the people’ in a context other than ‘rights’ – the famous preamble (“We the people”), Article I (providing that ‘the people’ will choose members of the House), and the Tenth Amendment (providing that those powers not given the Federal Government remain with ‘the States’ or ‘the people’). Those provisions arguably refer to ‘the people’ acting collectively – but they deal with the exercise or reservation of powers, not rights. Nowhere else in the Constitution does a ‘right’ attributed to ‘the people’ refer to anything other than an individual right.”

To back up his claim, as the circuit court did in its Friday ruling, Scalia sought the source or “natural meaning of the text” by using … what else … dictionaries.

“The 1773 edition of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary defined ‘arms’ as ‘weapons of offence, or armor of defense’ … Timothy Cunningham’s important 1771 legal dictionary defined ‘arms’ as ‘anything that a man wears for his defense, or takes into his hands, or useth in wrath to cast at or strike another’ … Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.”

In other words, we have dictionaries because words have meaning. Without a clear definition of terms, written contracts would be worthless and impossible to enforce. And that’s the point. The U.S. Constitution is a written contract between a free people and its representative government. That government cannot lawfully expand its power beyond the written words of the contract. That would require amending the Constitution and submitting that amendment for the states to ratify or reject.

Progressive jurists do an end-run around that burdensome process by redefining words. That is how the “right” to abortion was miraculously discovered lurking between the lines of the Constitution, even though the subject of abortion is a topic never mentioned in the Federalist Papers. The high court amended the Constitution in Roe v. Wade without asking a single state to ratify. That is how deconstructionism works. If words have no meaning, neither does the Constitution, and our government can do as it pleases. Under this legal anarchy, no man’s liberty is secure.

And no one is more aware of this than the nation’s community organizer. He thought he could do and end-run around the Constitution’s “separation of powers” and appoint whomever he pleased to the Labor Relations Board without the consent of the Senate.

However, the man who believes he is a law unto himself was confronted by a fading but occasionally functioning expression of man’s yearning to live free. “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution,” said Abraham Lincoln, “That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

It is surely a sign of divine providence that Obama’s Constitutional shellacking on Friday came about thanks to a Supreme Court ruling affirming the individual’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.


  1. While we may consider this a victory for the Constitution, it is but a small batter in a very large ongoing war. Judges die and new ones are appointed – this all too often affects the outcome of future rulings and the over turning of old rulings…

    • According to the report "Qualifications for President and the 'Natural Born' Citizenship Eligibility Requirement" by Congressional Research Service. Federation of American Scientists. November 14, 2011. p. 2.
      The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term "natural born" citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship "by birth" or "at birth", either by being born "in" the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship "at birth". Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an "alien" required to go through the legal process of "naturalization" to become a U.S. citizen.

    • Natural Born Citizen is defined in Vatell's "Law of Nations". Natural Born Citizen is defined in Law of Nations as one born of two citizen parents in the country of citizenship. Law of Nations was the reference text for our Founders writing the Constitution for the many and varied sections. When examining the correspondence amongst the authors is found constant reference to Law of Nations. Ben Franklin had checked out one of two copies in the Library in Philladelphia and never bothered to return it, since it was his constant companion during the writing of the Constitution. Many others laws and duties of the government written were authored from influence of various portions of Law of Nations.