The Justice said the “privileges or immunities” argument was “the darling of the professorate” but wondered why [Alan Gura, the lawyer for gun rights advocates,] would “undertake that burden.” And Scalia noted that the “due process” clause — an open-ended provision that he has strongly attacked on other occasions– was available as the vehicle for incorporation, and added: “Even I have acquisced in that.” Gura somewhat meekly said “we would be extremely happy” if the Court used the “due process” clause to extend the Second Amendment’s reach.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the dissenters in Heller, then moved in to press Gura on just what “unenumerated rights” would be protected if the Court were to revive the “privileges or immunities” clause. It was a theme that would recur often thereafter, solidifying the appearance that the argument had virtually no chance of succeeding. (In fact, when Gura near the end of the argument returned to the podium for his rebuttal, his time was used up by Justices Ginsburg and Anthony M. Kennedy exploring what other rights might come into being if the Court gave new life to the “privileges or immunities” clause. He responded that he could not provide a full list, to which Justice Scalia retorted: “Doesn’t that trouble you?” It was obvious that it troubled the Court.)