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L.A. Times Coverage of Second Amendment Incorporation Decisions:

The Seventh Circuit decision (from Chicago), holding that the Second Amendment doesn't apply to the states, is covered in a nearly-800-word story today. The Ninth Circuit decision (from Northern California) this April, holding that the Second Amendment does apply to the states, wasn't covered at all by the Times at the time. [UPDATE: I realized that my earlier locution here, "wasn't covered at all," was ambiguous; I meant wasn't covered at the time, but in context it could be read as saying that the article about the Seventh Circuit case doesn't mention the Ninth Circuit decision -- it does, about halfway down.]

To be sure, there are possible explanations: Today's story was by the Times' Supreme Court reporter, and this case is more likely than the Ninth Circuit case to go to the Supreme Court, for reasons I described here. The underlying controversy in the Seventh Circuit (a handgun ban) is more likely to interest people than the underlying controversy in the Ninth Circuit (a ban on gun possession on county property). And it's made higher profile by the controversy about Judge Sotomayor's participation in the Second Circuit's no-incorporation decision.

At the same time, the broad legal issue — whether state and local governments are bound by the federal right to bear arms — is the same. The Ninth Circuit decision was the one that created the circuit split, and it did tee things up for the Court to consider the Second Circuit's incorporation case (again, discussed here) — perhaps not perfectly, but still in a way that strikes me as newsworthy. The Ninth Circuit decision is the one that suggests some gun laws may be unconstitutional, which seems to me a pretty newsworthy matter. And the Ninth Circuit case was more local than the Seventh Circuit case.

So it seems to me that both cases would have been newsworthy to the L.A. Times, the Ninth Circuit case at least as much as the Seventh Circuit case. But as I noted shortly after the Ninth Circuit decision, the Ninth Circuit case wasn't covered in the L.A. Times at the time.

Likewise, the Washington Post mentions the Seventh Circuit case (though in a heavily Sotomayor-focused article) and didn't mention the Ninth Circuit case when that came down.

EcoLawyer:
I don't think the Seventh Circuit case would have made news at all (just as the Second Circuit case made little news, except among gun advocates), except for the fact that Sotomoyor was nominated.

Face it. Folks on the right threw a fit about Sotomoyor somehow being anti-gun or more illogically anti-bill of rights. To have Posner and Easterbrook essentially validating her opinion is now big news. That's why its a big story.
6.3.2009 4:08pm
Crunchy Frog:
Not surprising from the same paper that (in-)famously refused to cover the first LA-area tea party event (in Fullerton) that garnered 15,000 attendees, yet is all over any miniscule protest from the illegal immigration lobby.

The LA Times only prints that which it agrees with.
6.3.2009 4:10pm
Melancton Smith:
Amazingly fair article, in my opinion. I do get your broader implication...that it is not always what they write so much as what they choose to write that can lead to unfair reporting.

I've been to rallies in the IL State capitol with thousands of gun owners that don't get a peep from Chicago media then see a week or two later a story about 50 illegal aliens rallying there.
6.3.2009 4:14pm
Russ (mail):
If a federal decision regarding a right cannot be enforced on the states and municipalities that same federal government has jurisdiction over, then what's the point of even having it?

Maybe some other states should look into the same thing when it comes to abortion, or taxes, or Miranda Rights.
6.3.2009 4:15pm
MS (mail):
The CA7 decision matters because (1) it proves Soto isn't an "anti-gun radical" and (2) this is likely the case that will be granted cert.

The L.A. Times article makes both of these points plainly in the first two paragraphs.
6.3.2009 4:19pm
DonP (mail):
For anyone interested in tracking this, here is Mr. Gura's website on the Chicago Case.

He can be a little slow updating it, but at least you have access to the actual arguments and papers.

http://www.chicagoguncase.com/

In the meantime ... Daley will spare no taxpayer $$$ fighting for what he believes in. The fun part will be watching him spin an incorporation decision and finding ways to keep from actually changing the laws, a la Fenty and the guys in DC.
6.3.2009 4:26pm
Melancton Smith:
MS wrote:

The CA7 decision matters because (1) it proves Soto isn't an "anti-gun radical" and (2) this is likely the case that will be granted cert.


Or does it prove that Republicans can be anti-gun radicals too (see Mark Kirk).

That said, I don't think we have sufficient evidence to brand Sotomayor with that tag. I do think Posner earns branding as an anti-liberty radical.
6.3.2009 4:38pm
hawkins:
To the average person (who is unfamiliar with incorporation), perhaps the 7th Circuit decision is more newsworthy, as it seems to directly contradict Supreme Court precedent.
6.3.2009 4:38pm
Cato The Elder (mail):
Luckily, the changing demographics of Los Angeles means the L.A. Times won't be able to sustain itself for much longer in a city where increasing numbers of people can't read materials beyond the sixth-grade level. This is a Good Thing for journalism.
6.3.2009 4:48pm
Jeff Boghosian (mail):
Basic question (I'm not a lawyer): When lawyers are making their case in a district court or US court of appeals, how much preference and weight do they give to previous cases in jurisdiction of their own circuit? It seems strange because if the circuits are independent, why do they cite cases from other circuits?
6.3.2009 5:06pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
It seems strange because if the circuits are independent, why do they cite cases from other circuits?
When no cases from one's own circuit are directly on point, other circuit's cases can be persuasive.
6.3.2009 5:10pm
Davidicus Maximus:
The relevant language in the 9th Circuit's opinion was dicta - another difference.
6.3.2009 5:19pm
Harry Schell (mail):
LAT would rather publish any setback to 2A than anything that promotes it. I have written them several times on various proposed anti-self-defense laws in CA, and been surprised to see a couple of the letters published, though.

It does appear the editorial board is leaning further to the left recently after voter repudiation of the ludicrous Propositions to "fix" the budget mess here. When the truth won't do, fabrications are offered. Very scary in a way.
6.3.2009 5:22pm
Nunzio:
The Tribune Co., based in Chicago, owns the L.A. Times. Maybe it's Chicago-centric news, then.
6.3.2009 5:24pm
J. Aldridge:
[Unsubstantiated one-sentence factual accusation against an author (not one of the commenters or Conspirators) deleted. J. Aldridge, I've mentioned several times that your trademark one-line generalities, without supporting evidence or argument, are pretty unhelpful and annoying. Here, in additional to being annoying, the line was also an attack on someone, without providing any concrete evidence whatsoever. For all I know, the attack might have been sound; but without any supporting evidence, it's not remotely fair. I'm tired of these substantively unsupported one-liners from you; but if you want to make substantive arguments, by all means make them. -EV]
6.3.2009 5:30pm
first history:
To the average person (who is unfamiliar with incorporation), perhaps the 7th Circuit decision is more newsworthy, as it seems to directly contradict Supreme Court precedent.

Which precedent? Heller didn't address the incorporation issue (see here) and th 7th Circuit case was probably briefed before Heller was decided.
6.3.2009 5:34pm
Edward Lunny (mail):
"Times won't be able to sustain itself for much longer in a city where increasing numbers of people can't read materials beyond the sixth-grade level."...Are you being exceedingly generous in your characterization of the quality of writing in the LA Times, or slanderous and demeaning of 6th grade level readers ?
6.3.2009 5:34pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
>7th Circuit case was probably briefed before Heller was decided.

It was filed after Heller was decided.
6.3.2009 5:57pm
Ben S. (mail):

Which precedent? Heller didn't address the incorporation issue (see here) and th[e] 7th Circuit case was probably briefed before Heller was decided.


The commenter you quoted was summarizing a lay person's view of the Seventh Circuit decision. He or she was not advancing the assertion that the decision contradicts Heller, only that it would appear that way to lay people who do not understand incorporation (and therefore assume that Heller automatically binds all governments, whether federal, state, or local).
6.3.2009 6:13pm
Cato The Elder (mail):
Edward Lunny,

I thought I read somewhere a long time ago that the average newspaper article was aimed at about the reading level of a sixth-grader. The L.A. Times fancies itself an above-average, trend-setting, national newspaper of record, but their new potential subscribers apparently don't think highly enough of such cosmopolitanism aspirations to actually pay for the thing.
6.3.2009 6:19pm
richard1 (mail):
I thought I read somewhere a long time ago that the average newspaper article was aimed at about the reading level of a sixth-grader. The L.A. Times fancies itself an above-average, trend-setting, national newspaper of record, but their new potential subscribers apparently don't think highly enough of such cosmopolitanism aspirations to actually pay for the thing.


The problem isn't with the LA Times or the City of Los Angeles. Every newspaper in every city, big or small, liberal or conservative, is losing circulation and advertisers. The internet and the changing reading/watching patterns of the public is responsible for that and its misleading to claim that the changing demographics of LA are to blame.
6.3.2009 7:08pm
Harry Schell (mail):
As Ben S. said, a lay person (I am one) does have a hard time figuring out how "a fundamental, individual right" cannot bind the states, but hopefully this case will go to SCOTUS and incorporation will be decided favorably.

Seems to me the Bill of Rights pretty well trumps any conflicting law any where, state or federal, as IIRC every state derives its own constitution in reference to the US, but we are a republic...maybe that is the rub.

The human right of self-defense shall not be infringed, morally.
6.3.2009 7:16pm
jcz (mail):
Harry Scheil...
I think the point you are missing is that the Bill of Rights does not give rights to the people, but rather blocks the federal government from interfering with those rights of the people. Since the constitution created the federal government, not all the lesser governments, the Bill only applied to that federal government. The 14th amendment was created to extend some of the effects of the federal constitution to the lesser governmental entities, but we are still going through the process of establishing exactly which effects the 14th implies. That is what "incorporation" is all about. Without it, there is no legal basis for saying that the federal constitution has any effect on the states. So, without "incorporation" the Bill of Rights has nothing at all to say about any law anywhere except for that of the federal government.
6.3.2009 8:30pm
glangston (mail):
I don't find it especially surprising the LA Times would find a way to editorialize against the 2nd Amendment via leaving out some of the news that fits.

As is their privilege, they do editorialize against it on their Editorial Page with some regularity.
6.3.2009 8:43pm
Glen Alexander (mail):
Shortly after Nordyke was released, I had a brief (and pleasant) email exchange with LA Times correspondent David Savage about their lack of coverage of the Ninth Circuit. He's the author of today's piece about the Seventh Circuit's decision.

He's based in Washington, and simply said that his job was to report on national (e.g., SCOTUS) legal issues for the Times. As such, he said he'd write about 2nd Amendment incorporation developments when there was something of a "national significance" to report.

He did point me to a few remaining reporters in Los Angeles that should have picked-up on the Nordyke decision. But they never responded to my emails...
6.3.2009 10:30pm
RPT (mail):
Has the Los Angeles Daily Journal covered the Ninth Circuit case?
6.4.2009 12:08am
Wilpert Aloysius Gobsmacked (mail):
If it doesn't fit into the narrative being woven by Those Who Care then the LAT needn't waste its ink. It is quite simple. They are no longer journalists; they are now promoters and fablers.
6.4.2009 2:45am
jdberger:
When Nordyke was decided, press coverage emphasized the "no guns on County property" aspect. Even the legal newspapers like The Recorder and Daily Journal only made passing mention of incorporation.

The SF Chronicle did have a decent sized piece on the decision, though and did mention the incorporation issue.
6.4.2009 2:06pm

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