McDonald v. Chicago (Alito)


Several of the Chicago petitioners have been the targets
of threats and violence. For instance, Otis McDonald, who
is in his late seventies, lives in a high-crime neighborhood.
He is a community activist involved with alternative
policing strategies, and his efforts to improve his
neighborhood have subjected him to violent threats from
drug dealers. App. 16-–17; Brief for State Firearm Associa-
tions as Amici Curiae 20-–21; Brief for State of Texas et al.
as Amici Curiae 7–-8. Colleen Lawson is a Chicago resi-
dent whose home has been targeted by burglars. ““In Mrs.
Lawson’s judgment, possessing a handgun in Chicago
would decrease her chances of suffering serious injury or
death should she ever be threatened again in her home.””3
McDonald, Lawson, and the other Chicago petitioners own
handguns that they store outside of the city limits, but
they would like to keep their handguns in their homes for
protection. See App. 16-–19, 43-–44 (McDonald), 20-–24 (C.
Lawson), 19, 36 (Orlov), 20-–21, 40 (D. Lawson).

After our decision in Heller, the Chicago petitioners and
two groups4 filed suit against the City in the United States
District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. They
sought a declaration that the handgun ban and several
related Chicago ordinances violate the Second and Four-
teenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Another action challenging the Oak Park law was filed in
the same District Court by the National Rifle Association
(NRA) and two Oak Park residents. In addition, the NRA
and others filed a third action challenging the Chicago
—————— —————-
York”” (internal quotation marks omitted)); see also Brief for Interna-
tional Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association et al. as
Amici Curiae 17-–21, and App. A (providing comparisons of Chicago’’s
rates of assault, murder, and robbery to average crime rates in 24 other
large cities).
Brief for Women State Legislators et al. as Amici Curiae 2.
4 The Illinois State Rifle Association and the Second Amendment
Foundation, Inc.


 ordinances. All three cases were assigned to the same District Judge.

The District Court rejected plaintiffs’’ argument that the
Chicago and Oak Park laws are unconstitutional. See
App. 83-–84; NRA, Inc. v. Oak Park, 617 F. Supp. 2d 752,
754 (ND Ill. 2008). The court noted that the Seventh
Circuit had “”squarely upheld the constitutionality of a ban
on handguns a quarter century ago,”” id., at 753 (citing
Quilici v. Morton Grove, 695 F. 2d 261 (CA7 1982)), and
that Heller had explicitly refrained from ““opin[ing] on the
subject of incorporation vel non of the Second Amend-
ment,”” NRA, 617 F. Supp. 2d, at 754. The court observed
that a district judge has a “”duty to follow established
precedent in the Court of Appeals to which he or she is
beholden, even though the logic of more recent caselaw
may point in a different direction.”” Id., at 753.

The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-
century cases—-United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542
(1876), Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252 (1886), and Miller
v. Texas, 153 U. S. 535 (1894)-—that were decided in the
wake of this Court’’s interpretation of the Privileges or
Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in the
Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36 (1873). The Seventh
Circuit described the rationale of those cases as ““defunct”” 
and recognized that they did not consider the question
whether the Fourteenth Amendment’’s Due Process Clause
incorporates the Second Amendment right to keep and
bear arms. NRA, Inc. v. Chicago, 567 F. 3d 856, 857, 858
(2009). Nevertheless, the Seventh Circuit observed that it
was obligated to follow Supreme Court precedents that
have “”direct application,”” and it declined to predict how
the Second Amendment would fare under this Court’’s
modern “”selective incorporation”” approach. Id., at 857-–
858 (internal quotation marks omitted).
We granted certiorari. 557 U. S. ___ (2009).