Descriptions of the supreme court gun cases

Copyright by James O. Bardwell, 1995, 1996. Permission is given to reproduce this document or portions thereof with attribution, for non-commercial, or non-governmental use only. No claim to U.S. statutes, regulations or case opinions quoted herein.

Supreme court case links with no descriptions

  • Bailey v. U.S., - U.S. - (1995)
    In this case the Supremes look again at the drug crime sentencing enhancement provided when a suspect uses a gun in a drug offense. In this case they review the enhanced sentences of drug dealers who were caught with guns, and drugs at the same time, but the circumstances suggested they merely possessed the guns, and did not use them in any active sense of the verb. One had the gun in a closet at home, the other in his locked trunk while in his car. The court decides that some kind of active employment of the gun needs to be shown for the law to apply. Mere possession is not sufficient.
  • Barrett v. U.S., 423 U.S. 212 (1976)
    This case decides whether you have to acquire a gun interstate in order to violate part of the GCA, or if the gun just needs to have moved interstate at some point in its life. The court opts for the more broad interpretation.
  • Beecham v. U.S., - U.S. - (1994)
    A supreme court case on whether a removal of felony status under state law, for a state conviction, also operates to remove the felony status from a federal conviction, for the purpose of owning guns. The court says no, relief from the federal conviction must come from the feds.
  • Brief for appeal of U.S. v. Bryan, 122 F.3d 90 (2d Cir. 1997)
    (see original case)
  • Bryan v. United States, - U.S. - (1998)
    In this case the court affirms the 2nd circuit ruling, which essentially equates the state of mind "wilfully" with "knowingly" in the Gun Control Act, even though both terms were used, and wilfully traditionally means a greater state of mind (awareness of what you are doing, whether it you it on purpose, versus whether you know you are violating the law in question) than knowingly. Justice Stevens, who believes gun owners are evil, decides that all the government need show is that the defendant knew he was violating any law, and not the specific requirement the defendant is being charged with. The addition of states of mind was a reform in the 1986 FOPA, before that ATF regularly got convictions against persons who had no idea they were doing anything wrong at all, and in fact thought they were just selling off their gun collection. This in essence repeals part of that reform, by judicial decision.
  • Caron v. U.S., - U.S. - (1998)
    In this case the Supreme court decides that in order for a felon's right to own firearms to be considered restored under state law, the state must give him the right to own any firearm at all, and not just some firearms, even if the specific firearms he is caught with he is allowed to have under state law. In this case Caron could legally have long guns under Mass. law, but could not possess handguns outside his home or business, due to his felony convictions under Mass. law. He was caught possessing only rifles and shotguns, but the federal court still enhanced his sentence for committing another crime for being a felon in possession of firearms. The Supreme court affirms that reasoning, deciding that the fact that his firearm possession was legal under the state law, the same law that is supposed to determine whether his conviction bars him from owning firearms does not matter, as this is a federal law, and this is what Congress must have meant, to deny firearms ownership rights to the largest group of people possible. The court in this case, and in the Bryan v. US, eviserates two of the reforms the NRA pushed very hard to get in the 1986 FOPA.
  • Church of Scientology v. IRS, 484 U.S. 9 (1987)
    In this case the Supreme Court construes 26 USC 6103, the Watergate era statute that prohibits the release of a tax return by the federal government. In this case the court decides that section 6103 prohibits the release of a return under the Freedom of Information Act, even if the information identifying the taxpayer is blocked out from the released copy. The court construes the statute literally, that the return document may not be released, period. Since the NFA transfer forms are treated by ATF as tax returns (rightly in my opinion, I don't know of any cases on the subject, but I would expect a court to agree with that interpretation), they are not available under FOIA. The taxpayer can get a copy of his returns, in fact he is entitled to them. Section 6103 doesn't apply to government entities either, so possibly transfer forms of government entities may be obtainable by FOIA. However, as the court notes, a recompilation of tax return data, which strips out identifying information is releasable. That clause was apparently meant to allow IRS to continue to release generic information gathered from income tax returns, however it may have application in the NFA context, since ATF does prepare recompilations of transfer information.
  • Dickerson v. New Banner Institute, Inc., 460 U.S. 103 (1983)
    This case is the supreme court deciding if one is convicted of a felony, that operates to prohibit someone from having an FFL, or being a principal in a company with an FFL, where someone gets a deferred sentence, and succesfully completes it, such that under the laws of the state where they were prosecuted, they are not a felon. The court decides that pros. counts, and such a person is a felon, and decides Congress cannot have meant to have "conviction" governed by the law of the state where the person was prosecuted, although they do not really suggest an alternative. In any case, Congress overruled this case by amending the GCA in 1986 to expresly indicate that a state conviction was governed by state law. As indicated in the Beecham case, a federal conviction can only be negated by federal law, for purposes of owning guns.
  • Haynes v. U.S. 390 U.S. 85 (1968)
    This was an appeal from someone convicted of violating the old NFA, failing to register a weapon in their possession. Prior to the changes to the NFA in 1968, as part of the Gun Control Act (forced in part by this case, the case was decided in Jan., the law changed in Nov.) a person was required by law to register an NFA weapon in their possession. But it was illegal to possess an unregistered weapon, the law punished you if you failed to report a gun, and punished you (or potentially did) if you did report a gun. The Supreme Court decided this arrangement violated the 5th amendment, and decided that anyone charged with violating the NFA could assert, as an absolute defense, the 5th amendement prohibition on compelled self-incrimination. Thus one could freely make NFA weapons between 1/68 and the effective date of the changes to it, in November, and ignore the NFA. The Amnesty was designed in part to pick up these weapons, as well as adding DEWAT's and DD's. As a practical matter the government would sometimes let you register unregistered weapons in your possession, if your possession was non-criminal. Like the gun came in as a war souvenir and you were ignorant of the registration stuff, or you bought a Thompson before 1934 and missed the boat on registering it. Or the government changed the classification of the gun (sort of like the DD thing with the evil shotguns) as they apparently did with the T-48's H&R sold publicly after that program ended.
  • Huddleston v. U.S., 415 U.S. 814
    A supreme court case construing the GCA. In this one, the court decides that when one gets a gun back from a pawn shop, one has to fill out the 4473, and getting your own gun counts as an "acquisition" such that if you are a felon getting your own gun back (or your wife's, as was claimed in this case) you cannot legally get it back, and can be prosecuted for lying on the 4473 about your felon status.
  • Lewis v. U.S., 445 U.S. 55 (1980)
    This is a 1980 Supreme Court case that notes in a footnote that prohibiting felons from possessing firearms does not violate the 2nd amendment. The case itself is over whether a felony conviction that is arguably void because it was obtained w/o appointed counsel for the defense, still makes one a felon, and thus makes it illegal for that person to possess a firearm. The court decides that yes it does; even if the conviction could have been overturned, if the person had bothered, they need to do that before they can possess a firearm.
  • Brief of amicus Gun Owners Foundation, in Mack v. US.
  • Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1 (1964)
    This case is concerned with whether the right to be free from self incrimination, as found in the fourth amendment, applies to the states through the fourteenth amendment. The court decides yes; and Malloy got out of jail for refusing to answer questions from some stupid Conn. body investigating gambling.

    The interesting point of it is the second footnote in the court's opinions, where it notes that the second amdnement is one of the rights not yet held applicable to the states through the 14th amendment.

  • Maryland v. U.S., 381 U.S. 41 (1965)
    This is a very very tangential case to second amendment issues. It is with Perpich on the militia concept. Here, in deciding if a Air National Guard pilot who drove his plane into a passenger jet is an employee of the state or of the feds, the court says that the National Guard is the modern militia guaranteed to the states under article 1 sec 8 of the constitution. But the court does not have anything to say about what the militia in the second amendment means. But this case provides more info about the federal co-opting of the state militia, which is certainly inconsistent with reading the 2nd amendment to mean states can have militias, not to mention that it makes art 1 sec. 8 redundant in a big way. BTW the court decides the pilot was a state employee in this context.
  • Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535 (1894)
    This is a very short case, in which the Supreme court refuses to hear a 2nd Am. challenge to a Texas law prohibiting carrying weapons on the person. As the issue was not raised in the lower court, the Supreme court refuses to review it. And the court also suggests that the 2nd amendment does not apply to states, although it does seem to recognize an argument could be made that it does apply to the states through the 14th amendment (as most, but not all of the Bill of Rights now does). This case was cited in the challenge to the Ca. AW ban, Fresno Rifle Club v. Van de Camp.
  • Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246 (1952)
    In this case the Supreme court considers the intent required to be convicted of stealing US Government property, and decides that the same intent required at common law is required under the statute, and that just because Congress didn't recite any intent doesn't mean they intended to make the theft a strict liability crime. Compare this discussion to the Staples case.
  • Muscarello v. United States, - U.S. - (1998)
    In this case the Supreme court, construing the meaning of "carrying" a firearm for purposes of the sentencing enhancement found at 18 USC 924(c), decides that the word should be given an extremely broad meaning, and applies it to having a firearm anywhere in the means of transportation, not just on the person, or within reach. A gun in a trunk of a car, or locked glove box would also count. The dissent cleverly quotes extensively from a decision that the author of the majority decision, Justice Breyer wrote, when he was a court of appeals judge. The applicability of this case to "carry" outside of this particular federal statute is unclear, it may not have much applicaiton except to people selling drugs, who also have a gun.
  • Perpich v. Dept. of Defense, 496 U.S. 334 (1990)
    This is a 1990 Supreme Court case that pretty well extinguishes the argument that the 2nd amendment means states can have a National Guard w/o interference from the feds. Perpich was governor of Minn., who didn't want any of his National Guard troops being put on active duty for training in Central America. In 1987 the federal law that made state Guards part of the US Guard was amended to take away from governors the power to veto active duty missions, except for very limited circumstances; being a commie governor opposed to missions in Central America wasn't one of them. The court said that the feds could if they wanted make state Guards part of the US armed forces, as they had, and subject to being called to active duty as part of the Army, w/o the consent of that state's governor. The court identified the Guard as the "active militia" drawn from the general population of the state, which was the militia. While the court said it might violate the constitution for the feds to do such training with a truly state militia, (under the militia clause of the Constitution) the National Guard was just an extension of the US Guard, which was almost half of the manpower of the US Army, although not on active duty except when needed. Minnesota never made an argument that the 2nd amendment prohibited having the state militia be under the thumb of the feds. Even though that is precisely what HCI would have you believe it means. The National Guard is clearly a militia, but it can hardly be the one in the 2nd amendment, given the otherwise constitutional relationship it has to the federal government. And the opinion in this case was unanimous.
  • Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886)
    This is one of the two post-Civil War 19th Cent. cases addressing the 2nd amendment. (the other is Cruikshank). In this case Presser was part of a citizen militia group, (the Lehr und Wehr Verein) and was caught parading through Chicago with a group of other men, carrying guns. He was convicted of violating an Illinois law making it a crime to be a part of an armed unit parading or existing w/o a permit from the Governor. (Presser got a $10 fine). He claimed the law violated his rights under the 2nd amendment, among other things. The court disagreed, and upheld the law and his conviction. Basically they decided that the 2nd amendment was not a right to form or be part of a militia. It related to people (individuals, it seems) bearing arms for the use of the US government, and as part of the militia as called up by the government.
  • Printz v. U.S., - U.S. - (1997)
    In this case the Supreme Court reverses the 9th circuit's decision in Mack v. U.S., and decides that the burdens placed on local law enforcement by the Brady handgun control law are unconstitutional, under the 10th amendment, and general federalism principles.
  • Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275 (1896)
    This is a Supreme Court case from 1896. Like the Verdugo-Urquidez case it only mentions the 2nd amendment tangentially. The case is over whether a federal law that made it a CRIME for a seaman to refuse to do his seaman thing, after signing a contract to work as such, is constitutional, under the 13th amendment prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude. The court decides that is ok, the seaman can be sent to jail for refusing to work according to the terms of employment contract. Justice Harlan dissents, and I tend to agree with him; I don't think this case, if it hasn't already been overruled, would be followed today. In any case, they mention that the rights in the Bill of Rights are not unlimited, in trying to explain why being a slave isn't being a slave if you work on a ship. And two of their examples are limits in terms of libel/slander, blasphemy and indecency on the first amendment, and that limits on carrying concealed weapons do not violate the second amendment. Then of course this case is cited in Cases, for the proposition that the second amendment is limited, without mentioning the limitation expressed in it; to justify their own, very different conclusions as to the second amendment. A subtle pattern of misrepresenting prior cases emerges, until you reach the perversions exemplified in the 1970's by Warin.
  • Scarborough v. U.S., 431 U.S. 563 (1977)
    A supreme court case deciding whether a felon needs to acquire a gun before or after his felony conviction to be busted under sec. 1202(a), the former no felons with guns law, it was changed in 1986, as part of FOPA. The court decides the person must ditch all their guns when they become a felon. If they had guns before hand they become instantly guilty of violating 1202(a) as soon as they are a felon.
  • Smith v. U.S., 508 U.S. -, (1993)
    In this case the Supreme Court takes a look at what it means to "use" a firearm in a drug crime, for purposes of enhancing one's sentence for the drug crime. Smith traded, or attempted to trade, a MAC type machine gun for cocaine. Such activity adds 30 years to the sentence. The court holds that using the gun as a medium of exchange falls under the law; the gun need not be used as a gun in the traditional sense, ie as a weapon. A similar holding was reached by the DC Circuit in the Harris case, also on the server.
  • Sonzinsky v. United States, 300 U.S. 506 (1937)
    This is a case before Miller where the court reviewed the constitutionality of federal regulation of gun dealers; by requiring a special occupational tax (SOT) of dealers in NFA weapons. Sonzinsky was pedding NFA guns w/o the SOT. The court decides, based in large part of its review of the Narcotic Act previously, that the government may enact a tax for whatever it wants. As long as it facially raises revenue, it is fine. This case is often cited as upholding the transfer taxes, which have serious 2nd amendment implications when it does not. It only reviewed the dealer regulation. This case does not address the registration of guns, or transfer taxes, although it is often cited to that effect.
  • staples_briefs.txt
    This is the text of the briefs submitted by the parties to the Supreme Court, in the case noted below.
  • Staples v. U.S., - U.S. - (1994)
    This is also a very interesting case, where the Supreme Court reversed the 10th circuit and decided that in order to convict someone under the NFA of possessing an unregistered (untaxed) weapon, they must prove the defendant knew it was the sort of gun regulated by the NFA. In this case they had to show the defendant knew the rifle in question was fully automatic. This case was really answered in the Freed case, where the court said part of a violation of the NFA was the defendant's knowing the weapons in question were the sort subject to regulation. Freed held explicitly, and Staples didn't touch, that the government need not prove the defendant knew about the registration stuff, only the nature of the weapon that made it subject to registration. Lower courts had however been ignoring Freed, claiming the government needed to only show the guns were in fact the sort regulated, regardless of whether the defendant knew they had that feature. In Freed the NFA weapons were hand grenades, which made showing the defendant knew the nature of the weapons sort of irrelevant, although I guess there could have been an issue about whether he knew there was explosive material inside them. However with an mg, it can appear to be a regular semi-auto. This case will end a lot of stupid prosecution, for possessing a weapon that didn't work, but the feds could work on till it did, or for the feds to tape together parts kits - they can do whatever they want, but they will have to prove the defendant knew the thing was a machine gun, not just that they could make it behave as one.
  • Department of Treasury v. Galioto, 477 U.S. 556 (1986)
    In this case the Supreme Court reverses and remands a district court decision deciding under the pre-1986 GCA, that the prohibition on relief from the firearms disability for former mental patients, but the provision of a relief procedure for felons, violates due process. Since Congress changed the relief statute while the appeal was pending, to allow anyone with a disability, for whatever reason, to apply for relief, the issues dealt with by the District Court were now gone, and the case was moot.
  • U.S. v. One Assortment of 89 Firearms, 465 U.S. 354 (1984)
    In this case the supreme court decides that an acquittal in a prosecution for violating the GCA does not prohibit the feds from trying to forfeit the guns in question to the government, for the exact same conduct for which one was acquitted. In other words, if the feds strike out in court, they can try and steal the guns anyway, under the much lesser civil burdens of proof.
  • U.S. v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336 (1971)
    This case concerns the same issue as in US v. Synnes, whether the gun possessed by a felon for which he is prosecuted under a law that no longer exists, 18 USC sec 1202, needs to have moved in interstate commerce, or otherwise be connected to interstate commerce. Other courts, including Synnes, said no. The court disagreed, looking only at the language of the law. However it foreshadows both the Lopez case, and any challenge to 922(o), by deliberately ducking the issue of whether Congress has the power to ban mere possession of a gun, w/o any nexus to a enumerated Congressional power. The court they were reviewing apparently said Congress could not ban mere possession, there was no enumerated power allowing that, and construed the law to require an interstate commerce nexus. The court also so construed it, but explicitly refused to decide the constitutional issue. They decided the text of the law suggested an interstate commerce nexus.
  • U.S. v. Biswell, 406 U.S. 311 (1972)
    In this 1972 case, the US supreme court upheld the warrantless search of FFL's under the GCA, against a challenge based on the 4th amendment. This case will explain the "administrative search" concept, or why officials do not need a warrant to verify compliance with primarily regulatory, as opposed to criminal, laws, in areas that are considered to be "pervasively regulated". It is a crummy doctrine, this was before the law was amended to only permit one such search per 12 months. When the GCA was passed, the feds could be at your shop tearing it apart every day, if they wanted, without a warrant, and without probable cause.
  • United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875)
    The case was over the constitutionality of the Enforcement Act, which prohibited anyone from interfering with the constitutional rights of others, either because of race, or not. It is a little sketchy, but it appears Cruikshank, et al, were Klansmen in Louisiana, who killed two black men in 1873. The court decided the law was unconstitutional, as outside the power of Congress, at least in the way Cruikshank and cohorts were indicted. Part of the act made it a crime to interfere with anyone keeping and bearing arms for a lawful prupose. The court said that was not a constitutional right as such, it was an inalienable right, not granted by the Constitution. They said the second amendment only prohibited Congress from interfering with that right, and gave Congress no power to make it a crime for one citizen to interfere with that right of another citizen. The power to regulate that was in the States. As constitutional law Cruikshank is not very valid any longer. Congress now has virtually unlimited police power, something the Cruikshank court says is beyond argument that they do not have. The supreme court could revive this doctrine, it is sort of the idea the 5th circuit used to void the Gun Free Schools Zone Act in Lopez v. US, now under appeal to the court. And that the Bownds court used to void 922(o).
  • U.S. v. Dewitt, 9 Wall. 41 (1869)
  • U.S. v. Freed, 401 U.S. 601 (1971)
    In this case the court re-examined the NFA after the revisions of 1968, and found it was just fine, at least as to the 5th amendment problem of the old NFA. Freed was caught with hand grenades in Calif; one of his claims was that he couldn't register them because that would put him in violation of state law. The court said that would be compelled self incrimination, except that the NFA forbade the release of registration info, so the feds could not tell Calif. about his grenades, nor could the fact of registration be used in a Calif trial against him. The court also pointed out that the new NFA changed the burden of registration, and admitting possession to the transferor, not the transferee, as before. Thus Freed could not register anything in his possession, nor was he required to. But possession of unregistered items was still illegal, and he could be prosecuted for that. This also closed the ability for persons to add weapons in their possession to the Registry; NFA weapons could be added to the Registry only upon making or import (or by a law enforcement type agency, for their own use). Any law that requries gun registration, w/o promising confidentiality of the registration info, likely violates the 5th amendment, as there is no protection from using the info to prosecute a felon or other such person for possessing a firearm when they are not permitted to by law. However it is questionable as to whether this defense to non-registration can be used by anyone except someone who would actually be incriminated; that is you must be actually unable to lawfully possess guns, and then be prosecuted for failing to register them, to take advantage of the loophole. This is why registration schemes are by definition only aimed at the law abiding. Felons have a 5th amendment protection from being prosecuted for violating such schemes.
  • U.S. v. Lopez, __ U.S. __ (1995)
    This case is from 1995, where the court, on a 5-4 vote struck down the Gun Free School Zones Act (18 USC sec. 922(q)) as being beyond the power of Congress to enact, under the Constitution. Congress claimed, as it does with most of its enactments, that it was exercising its power to regulate interstate commerce, and had all sorts of made-up reasons why kids with guns at local public and private schools affected interstate commerce. The Court said no, it was too much of a stretch. Yes, they had let Congress run rough-shod over the principle of a limited federal government, or enumerated powers in the past, they were drawing a line now. Check out Justice Thomas' concurrence, no one else would join him. In it he lays out a truly revolutionary idea - that the fundamental ideas the court has used to review Congressional enactment for constitutionality, at least since the 1930's are wrong, and need to be scrapped. Excellent thinking, too bad no one else there agrees with him. Anyway, this case is a good argument to use anytime a federal law is nominally based on the power to regulate interstate commerce, but goes far beyond that sort of commerce, or doesn't note any connection to commerce. Like 922(o), the mg making ban, for instance. The federal district court in US v. Bownds used the 5th circuit opinion in this same case, which the Supremes affirmed here, to strike down 922(o) as beyond Congressional power. It gives a good boost to a Bownds on appeal to the 5th circuit.
  • U.S. v. Miller, United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 59 S.Ct 816, 83 L.Ed. 1206 (1939) - Supreme Court on 2nd amendment
    This is the only Supreme Court case where the court examined whether the 2nd amendment inhibits the feds from regulating guns, in this case the NFA regulation. Two guys transported a sawed off shotgun through the South (the case even lists the serial number and make) and were charged with violating the NFA. The lower court decided the law violated the 2nd amendment, and let the guys out. They promptly fled, or died, take your pick, and the government pursued an appeal, with no representation for Miller and his buddy. The court decides the law does not on its face violate the second amendment, at least as applied to a sawed off shotgun. The case is mostly ramblings about the meaning of "militia". The court does seem to hold the door open that if it is shown a gun is a "militia weapon" then the 2nd amendment forbids the feds from regulating that weapon. Personally I see that as weaselly crap, the court would never have decided the law violated the 2nd amendment, even though it obviously did. A militia weapon is totally irrelevant, it is whatever one wields in defense of home and country. There is no class of weapons that are protected, and class that isn't. But the court decides the case on whether the possession of a sawed-off shotgun by these persons furthers the militia, leaving the door for the gross and unsightly twisting of the 2nd amendment regularly seen in federal appellate court cases now.
  • U.S. v. Powell, 423 U.S. 87 (1975)
    In this case the Supreme court upholds the federal law declaring pistols, revolvers and other firearms concealable on the person as "nonmailable", and the prosecution of a woman for sending a sawed off shotgun with an overall length of 22 1/2" through the mail. The court decided the law applied to any firearm a jury found to be concealable on the person, even the one in question, which was much larger than the average pistol. The court also decided the law wasn't so vague as to not apprise defendants of what was prohibited, and thus unconstitutionally vague.
  • thompson_briefs.txt
    This is the text of the briefs submitted by the Government, only.
  • Brief of Thompson/Center in the Supreme Court case
  • Brief of amicus curiae senators Larry Craig,a Steve Symms and Robert C. Smith in Thompson/Center v. U.S.
  • U.S. v. Thompson/Center Arms Co., - U.S.- (1992)
    This is another recent examination of the meaning of the language of the NFA by the Supreme Court, along with Staples. Neither involves constitutional law. In this case the court was called upon to decide what constituted a short barreled rifle. T/C wanted to market a kit consisting of one receiver for their Contender gun, a 16"+ barrel, a >16" barrel, a pistol grip and a shoulder stock. This kit could be used, as intended, to assemble a rifle or a pistol, or it could also be used to assemble a SBR. As it could be so used, ATF decided it was a SBR. T/C made one unit on a Form 1, then sued for a tax refund, claiming it wasn't subject to the NFA. This is the way to challenge such a classification. Doing the thing York or SWD did, in those cases, is an invitation to a prosecution. The Staples case will limit such things, but one can easily lose....Here all that was at stake was money. The court decided that the language of the definition of a SBR was vague, and gave it the reading most favorable to the taxpayer, T/C. They decided the kit was not a SBR, nor was any set of parts where they could be used for a legitimate purpose, even if they could also be used to assemble a SBR. However a SBR fully assembled was also clearly a SBR. Thus the other grey area was a SBR in parts form, like an Uzi carbine and a Uzi SMG barrel. A lower court had held in a prior case that that set of parts was a SBR. The court agreed; that if the parts had only one use, to make a SBR, and a person possessed them all that was a SBR also.
  • United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 US 259 (1990)
    This is a case with "dicta" (an offhand remark not needed to reach the legal conclusion of the case, and thus may not carry the weight of precedent with lower court judges) that the 2nd amendment, with the use of the word people, means indiviudals, (and by extension not states). The case itself concerns whether the 4th amendment rights as to search and seizure apply to a foreign national, whose property located in Mexico is searched by the DEA w/o a warrant or probable cause. The court decides the 4th amendment does not apply to property outside the USA owned by a foreign national.
  • U.S. v. Watts, - U.S. - (1997)
    In this case the Supreme court decides that facts underlying a crime which a defendant was acquitted can still be used by the judge, if he finds them to be true by a lower evidentiary standard, to give the defendant a longer sentence than he would otherwise get, on crimes for which the defendant was convicted. In any case the sentence has to be within the statutory maximum, but in one of these cases, even though the defendant was acquitted of carrying or using a firearm in a drug crime, the court enhanced his sentence based on his possessing a firearm during the drug crime.
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