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McDonald v. City of Chicago

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Brief Fact Summary.

The plaintiffs sued the City of Chicago for violating their Second Amendment rights.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

The Second Amendment applies to the states and invalidates a state statute that prohibits citizens from possessing handguns.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Unlike the Free Exercise Clause, which plainly protects individuals against congressional interference with the right to exercise their religion, the Establishment Clause does not purport to protect individual rights.

View Full Point of Law

The city of Chicago was sued on violations of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments due to a city law that prohibited Chicago citizens from owning handguns.


Whether the Second Amendment applies to states that prohibit citizens from possessing handguns?


Yes. The Second Amendment Right to bear arms is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.


(Breyer, J.) There is nothing contained within the text of the Second Amendment that makes self-defense a private right.

(Stevens, J.) Owning a handgun is not “liberty” as protected by the Due Process Clause.


(Alito, J.) The Second Amendment Right to bear arms is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment and the right to bear arms is essential to American justice.

(Thomas, J.) The Second Amendment is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause, rather than Due Process, because the right to bear arms is a privilege of being a citizen of the United States.

(Scalia, J.) The Supreme Court does not have the authority to prevent rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.


A protection guaranteed by the Bill of Rights is extended to the states if the right is rooted in the nation’s history and tradition. Similarly, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 extended the right to bear arms to all citizens of the United States and is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

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