Why Corpus Linguistics Does Not Undermine DC v. Heller (Much)
I recently participated in a conference on the application of legal corpus linguistics to the Second Amendment, a topic I’ve long wanted to make up my mind about. My tentative conclusion is that the corpus linguistics evidence does not undermine much of the Supreme Court’s opinion in DC v. Heller. As part of the conference I have a blog post, Heller Survives the Corpus, at the Second Thoughts Blog, hosted by the Duke Center for Firearms Law.
Here’s the intro:
District of Columbia v. Heller, meet legal corpus linguistics. Opponents of the decision are excited to have a new lever that might dislodge it. Proponents of the methodology are excited to have a great victory to prove their methodology’s worth. But in my view most of this excitement is premature.
And from the analysis:
In the course of supporting [its legal] conclusions, the Court invoked at least five historical premises. These include: (1) the conclusion that the prefatory clause does not limit the scope of the operative clause; (2) the conclusion that a “right” belonging to the “people” is an individual right; (3) the conclusion that “keep arms” included having weapons in one’s home; (4) the conclusion that “bea
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