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A.G. Van Hollen's Statement on United States Supreme Court's Decision in McDonald


Today's decision is a victory for those who value liberty.


MADISON - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued the following statement applauding the United States Supreme Court's decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago:


Today's decision is a victory for those who value liberty. The United States Supreme Court's opinion in McDonald vindicates every individual's fundamental right to keep and bear arms.  Adopting the position I joined on behalf of the state of Wisconsin with 37 other states, the Court rightly concluded that the right to bear arms is a right that should be protected from unconstitutional governmental interference, whether by the federal government or state governments.  This puts the right to bear arms on same footing as other fundamental rights, such as free speech and free exercise of religion. 


To me, the Court's decision today is a natural and anticipated extension of the court's decision two years ago in Heller in which the Court held that the right to bear arms for the purposes of self-defense is a fundamental individual right.  If there is any surprise about today's decision, it is that it was not unanimous.


Wisconsin citizens know how fundamental the right to keep and bear arms is.  When Wisconsin voters were given the opportunity to protect the right to bear arms in the Wisconsin Constitution, they overwhelmingly voted in favor of protecting the right, with nearly 3 votes in favor for every one opposed.  The amendment, which passed in 1998, received more votes for a constitutional amendment than any other amendment in Wisconsin's history that was voted on in a non-presidential election year. 


It is important to me to do what I can as Wisconsin's Attorney General to protect this fundamental individual right.  I sought the required permission to file a brief in the Heller case.  While the Governor denied my request, the State Assembly passed a resolution that authorized my office to write and file a brief with the United States Supreme Court, advocating for the right to bear arms.  When this right became an issue again in the McDonald case, Governor Doyle once again rejected my request to advocate in the Supreme Court for this fundamental right on behalf of the state of Wisconsin.  Once again, the State Assembly stepped in and provided the required authorization I needed to advocate for Wisconsin. 


***End of Statement***


A copy of the decision can be found at


A copy of the amicus brief joined by the State of Wisconsin can be viewed at: