Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The District of Columbia vs Heller Dissent - Part 2

Justice Stevens' Sidelined
American History 
[Updated May 26, 2015]
Part 1  documented Justice Stevens' Heller dissent Second Amendment intent argument is founded on a conflation error because it directly conflicts with the statements of George Mason, the Ratification Era framer of its two-clause language. The dissent also linked the intent of Mason's Virginia Ratifying Convention Second Amendment proposal to those of North Carolina and New York, extensions of the conflation error to those sources.
     The Second Amendment proposals of all three states were based on the original two-clause Second Amendment version in George Mason's U.S. Bill of Rights model. The Virginia convention's sole alteration of Mason's language was dropping the word “to” before “bear arms” in its first clause. [1] North Carolina adopted Virginia's proposals verbatim and refused to ratify the Constitution until they were added. [2]
1 [See Part 1 for Virginia's version and below for Mason's original.]
2 [The Origin of the Second Amendment, pp.503-506]
     New York's Second Amendment predecessor, found in its ratification declaration of rights, was very similar to the other two states. It was based directly on Mason's original model. This resulted from George Mason providing New York's Antifederalist leaders a complete copy of his model for the U.S. Bill of Rights developed early in the Virginia Ratifying Convention, which met from June 2 through June 27, 1788. 
     The documents addressed below consist of Mason's U.S. Bill of Rights model [3], a partially developed list of Mason's "other" amendments [4], and letters from Patrick Henry, William Grayson, and George Mason, Virginia Convention Antifederalist leaders, to John Lamb, Antifederalist leader in New York City. These sources independently confirm the conflation error Justice Stevens' Heller dissent is founded upon.
3 [The Origin of the Second Amendment, pp.388-390]
4 [Mason Papers, Vol. III, pp.1055-1057]
     John Lamb sent letters to Mason, Henry, and Grayson seeking cooperation on a bill of rights and other amendments to the U.S. Constitution between Antifederalists in the New York and Virginia conventions. These were delivered on June 7, 1788, and all three Virginians responded affirmatively to Lamb on June 9. Mason, chairman of the amendments committee, included the complete model Bill of Rights and partial list of the amendments then under development with his letter. These letters and documents were transmitted to Lamb by Eleazer Oswald, the same special courier Lamb employed to hand deliver his requests regarding cooperation to the Virginians.
[For historical facts not specifically cited in this part, see the history and citations regarding Virginia-New York Ratifying Convention amendment cooperation found in The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms, pp.131-147]
     Patrick Henry's letter described the documents sent to Lamb as follows: 
"We have concluded to send you by Colo. Oswald a copy of the Bill of Rights & of the particular Amendments we intend to propose in our Convention". 
[Mason Papers, Vol. III, p.1071 note]
     The Bill of Rights was finalized and consisted entirely of provisions taken from existing state declarations of rights. The particular amendments list was still under development and related to alterations of specific parts of the proposed U.S. Constitution.
     William Grayson emphasized the incomplete nature of the particular amendments list:
"some of our proposed amendments are finished in the Committee; the others will be forwarded as soon as agreed on". 
[Mason Papers, Vol. III, p.1071 note]
     The particular or "other" amendments list sent to Lamb consisted of thirteen unnumbered provisions, five of which were not even included in the final twenty article version Patrick Henry introduced in Virginia on June 24. The amendments sent on June 9 were very much in a developmental state because analyzing, discussing and agreeing upon possible amendments to particular Constitutional provisions took considerable time and continued throughout Virginia's month long convention.
     That the Bill of Rights was completed very early in Virginia's convention, probably the first day or two, is not surprising because Mason himself had described the speed with which one could be developed the previous year in the Federal Convention:
He wished the plan had been prefaced with a bill of rights, and would second a motion, if made for the purpose. It would give great quiet to the people, and, with the aid of the state declarations, a bill of rights might be prepared in a few hours". 
[The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.12]
     Mason's 1788 Bill of Rights sent to Lamb fit this description exactly as it was essentially a copy of the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights with some added provisions from other state declarations.
     The Bill of Rights model's original two-clause Second Amendment predecessor sent to John Lamb on June 9 read: 
17. That the People have a Right to keep & to bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to Arms, is the proper natural and safe Defence of a free State;” 
[The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.390]
     Mason's June 9 letter to Lamb mentioned several parts of the Constitution to be addressed by his amendments committee in the future. This information, just as that in Part 1, establishes the direct conflict between the Founders' understanding and the Heller dissent argument regarding Second Amendment intent due to conflation.
"The Judiciary, the exclusive Legislative Power over the ten Miles Square, and the Militia, are Subjects to which our Attention will next be turned, and we shall communicate the Result of our Deliberations with all possible Dispatch." 
[Mason Papers III, p.1058]
     Mason and the amendments committee members understood they had addressed no amendments of the Constitution's militia powers as of June 9, and that none were included among the documents sent to John Lamb. The fact that the original two-clause Second Amendment predecessor was sent to Lamb as part of the model Bill of Rights on that date clearly indicates it was not understood by its framers as relating to amending the militia powers, which is the erroneous view advanced in Justice Stevens' dissent. These facts document and further exemplify the direct conflict between the founders' view of the Second Amendment and that advanced by the dissenting Heller justices.
     The period evidence presented here is entirely consistent with that in Part 1, and it independently verifies the conflation error the Heller dissent is based upon. As a result of this erroneous historical foundation, the dissenting Heller justices treat all period historical sources with well regulated militia language as support for their argument.
     Every Revolutionary and Ratification Era bill of rights predecessor of the Second Amendment with well regulated militia language is presented somewhere in the Heller dissent as supporting its opinion of intent. Since the dissent view of period well regulated militia language is based on erroneous conflation, use of closely related historical examples results in repeated conflation errors. The only evidence offered to verify the dissenting justices assertions regarding intent are appeals to their own authority, another type of fallacious argument. The Heller dissent view of Second Amendment intent is an interwoven series of fallacious appeals to its own authority based on error of fact due to conflation. The end result is a circular argument in which the very language at the heart of Second Amendment dispute, historical well regulated militia sources, are repeatedly offered as proof the dissent is factually correct.
     The Second Amendment intent argument in Justice Stevens' Heller dissent is entirely undermined by relevant period historical sources, which demonstrate it is founded on factual error.
[In Part 3, the understanding of Second Amendment framer George Mason regarding well regulated militia language will be examined, further documenting the sidelined American history nature of Justice Stevens' Heller dissent.]

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