WALLACE: Now, in the 2008 Heller case, the court said there's a constitutional individual right to bear arms. What's wrong with that?She responded and — forgive me — I've got to parse this pretty closely:
CLINTON: Well, I think what the court said about there being an individual right is in line with constitutional thinking.Is the "constitutional thinking" she's referring to there wrong, in her view? She doesn't say. She repeats the majority's interpretation and essentially says that was an interpretation that existed out there in the legal literature.
And I said in the convention, I’m not looking to repeal the second amendment.So, yeah, you said that in the convention, but why did you say that? What relationship did that statement have to "The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment"?
You could think the Supreme Court is wrong about the existence of an individual right but now it's stare decisis and should remain in place because it's precedent. Or you could think the precedent should be overruled and want to put Justices on the Court who will overrule it. Saying you don't want to repeal the amendment is beside the point. It's so hard to amend the Constitution, which is what you'd need to do to repeal it, and it would be far easier to get to a Court that would simply overrule Heller and give the Second Amendment a different interpretation.
I’m not looking to take people's guns away...That's just a policy — a policy the government could enact even if there were no individual right to bear arms. So we're very far from the original topic now.
... but I am looking for more support for the reasonable efforts that need to be undertaken to keep guns out of the wrong hands.So you are for the policy of taking some people's guns away. The wrong people. (And speaking of wrong, was the Supreme Court wrong on the Second Amendment, in your current opinion? I still don't know.)
WALLACE: And the Second Amendment includes an individual right to bear arms.And the majority in Heller said that the Second Amendment allows for limitations, so that can't be the basis for saying the Court was wrong on the Second Amendment (unless she was mistaken about what the Court said in Heller). Chris Wallace was properly prepared on this point:
CLINTON: Yes, but that right like every other of our rights, our First Amendment rights, every right that we have is open to and even subject to reasonable regulations.
WALLACE: I just want to pursue this a bit. Heller, Justice Scalia, he said that the right to bear arms is reasonably limited. He let the door open to regulation. If you're elected president, you're going to appoint the Ninth Supreme Court justice.... Are you saying you do not want to see the Heller decision, the individual right to bear arms overturned?And there's where she gets off the hook, because you could think a decision is wrong but still want to leave it in place because it's precedent. And once we know that the right is subject to limitation, why would you bother overruling Heller to get to whatever regulations you want? You just need a Court that will be generous about letting the government do what it wants. Accordingly, Hillary proceeds to talk about what she wants government to do:
CLINTON: No, I don't...
... but here's what I do want. And I want to be very clear about this: I want the Congress to step up and do its job. I want to get out of the horrible cycle we're in, where we go and mourn dozens, hundreds, thousands of people killed by gun violence. Everybody says, oh, let's pray, let's send our hearts and our feelings, and then nothing happens. We're better than this. The gun lobby intimidates elected officials. The vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, support the kind of common-sense reforms that I’m proposing.The conversation advances to some other topics, but the question of the Supreme Court remains in play. Wallace pushes her about all the things she seems to want to change through Supreme Court appointments and finally asks: "What about precedent?" She says:
CLINTON: The precedent is absolutely in line. You know, I taught law. I’m a recovering lawyer. I know that precedent is something that you look to, but I also know that courts can take a look at precedent and determine that maybe they weren't right the first time.A recovering lawyer.... I used to be a lawyer but I don't touch that stuff anymore.