Quite possibly the first time we’ve had to run the nuke thumbnail twice in the same day. But richly deserved in both cases.

Two hundred seventeen years after ratification, we finally get to find out what “well regulated militia” means.

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will decide whether the District of Columbia can ban handguns, a case that could produce the most in-depth examination of the constitutional right to “keep and bear arms” in nearly 70 years…

The government of Washington, D.C., is asking the court to uphold its 31-year ban on handgun ownership in the face of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down the ban as incompatible with the Second Amendment. Tuesday’s announcement was widely expected, especially after both the District and the man who challenged the handgun ban asked for the high court review.

It was a foregone conclusion that they’d agree to hear the case. These are the best odds we could hope for: Two new conservative Bush appointees on the Court joining the two Reagan appointees and Clarence Thomas. Why, I haven’t felt as confident in victory since eight Republican appointees heard the, erm, Casey case.

Fearless prediction: Get ready to give up those guns, kids, because this one’s going the other way. And you know damned well whom you’ll have to thank. The Gipper!

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Update: No matter how it turns out next June, it’s going to be a thunderbolt in the middle of the campaign. Ironically, the GOP losing this case would be a huge boon to gun-grabber Rudy, assuming he’s the nominee, since it would sharpen the focus on his promise to appoint conservatives like Scalia and Thomas, who share Rudy’s own, ahem, originalist philosophy. If you’ve got a bunch of social cons thinking of sitting home on grounds that there’s no difference between him and Hillary, this will do wonders to galvanize them. Of course, if the case comes out our way, it’ll work the same magic for the left. Which means this will be the second election in eight years which the Court may play a significant role in deciding.

Update: You never know how broadly or narrowly the Court’s going to address an issue when it comes before them, but it sounds like they’re going to hit this one squarely. According to SCOTUSblog, the question the Court has set for itself is as follows:

“Whether the following provisions — D.C. Code secs. 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 — violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

Update: Some of our commenters are despondent that if my prediction is right, it’ll open the way for federal handgun bans. This is out of my area of expertise but there’s a separate question of whether Congress has the power to regulate weapons, at least under the Commerce Clause. Given the political sensitivity of the issue and the prospect for a backlash among independents the Democrats need to win, I’m guessing if the Court does declare the Second Amendment a collective right you’ll be seeing both parties’ nominees take the federalist approach of letting the states regulate it.

Update: In fact, now that I think of it, it’s not out of the question that Kennedy would join the conservatives if they interpret the provision in a federalist manner. The reasoning would go something like this: Since militias are a tool used by the states to defend themselves from aggression by the federal government, it’s up to the states themselves to decide how “well regulated” they want their militias to be. If Texas wants every man to have the right to own a gun in his home, so be it; if D.C. wants to make it a collective right, so be it. The obvious attraction of that model would be that it lets rural areas be rural and urban areas be urban and is also true in spirit to the Court’s jurisprudence over the last 10-12 years expanding the scope of states’ rights. Significantly, Kennedy joined the majority in most (or possibly all) of those decisions. Roberts may see the federalist solution as a way to bring him onboard for this one too.