Justice Scalia on 2nd Amendment Limitations: 'It Will Have to Be Decided'

July 30, 2012 - 7:04 AM

(CNSNews.com) - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says "yes, there are some limitations that can be imposed" on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It's up to future court cases to determine what those limitations are, he said on "Fox News Sunday."

Some limitations "undoubtedly" are permissible, Scalia said, because limitations existed when the Constitution was written: "For example, there was a tort called affrighting, which if you carried around a really horrible weapon just to scare people, like a head ax or something, that was, I believe, a misdemeanor," he explained.

"I mean, obviously, the (2nd) amendment does not apply to arms that cannot be hand-carried. It's to 'keep and bear.' So, it doesn't apply to cannons. But I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to be -- it will have to be decided."

Scalia said he would consider the limitations society observed when the Constitution was written -- and then "see what those limitations are as applied to modern weapons."

Earlier in his interview with Chris Wallace, Scalia explained his approach to judging the constitutionality of a law: "Textualism means you are governed by the text. That's the only thing that is relevant to your decision, not whether the outcome is desirable, not whether legislative history says this or that -- but the text of the statute.

"Originalism says that when you consult the text, you give it the meaning it had when it was adopted, not some later modern meaning. So --"

Wallace interrupted: "So, if it was the Constitution written in the 18th century, you try to find what those words meant in the 18th century."

"Exactly," Scalia replied.

Asked about the Supreme Court's recent ruling upholding Obamacare -- and whether Chief Justice John Roberts changed his mind to side with court liberals -- Scalia refused to answer.

"I don't know. You'll have to ask him," Scalia said. "I don't talk about internal court proceedings."

"And, listen, those who do, you shouldn't believe what you read about internal court proceedings, because the reporter who reports that is either: (a) lying, which can be done with impunity, because as you know, we don't respond. It's the tradition of common law judges to lay back and take it. You don't respond in the press. Or (b) that reporter had the information from some who was breaking the oath of confidentiality, which means that's an unreliable person," Scalia said.

"So, either way, you should not -- you should not put any stock in reports about what was going on in the secrecy of the court."