It was a decision that surprised no one: In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court extended its 2008 decision striking down a DC handgun ban to cities and states across the nation. The lineup was the same, with conservatives agreeing the Second Amendment "right to bear arms" was such a fundamental right that it applied to the states. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the decision, applying the 2008 ruling written by Scalia. Liberal justices, including Obama nominee Sonia Sotomayor, complained that the ruling would make it harder for cities to make their own decisions about how to keep streets safe. But whatever the impact of the ruling, this much is clear: It will be a key issue in Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings. Republicans plan to hit her hard on whether she would support gun rights, especially in light of a memo she wrote while a law clerk to Justice Marshall that she was "not sympathetic." I talked to Senator Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, just a few moments before the hearings got underway. He said he expected she would be a vote for the liberals to allow handgun bans.
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