Hastings Law Journal


District of Columbia v. Heller could prove a turning point not in the law governing the right to keep and bear arms, but governing the right to serve in the military. Heller's reasoning, notwithstanding the Court's efforts to constrain its analysis from reaching a right to serve, should lead to a reconsideration of military service as a broadly-held and long-recognized constitutional right. Because of the political meaning of military service and the changes that have altered the role and make-up of the military in the United States, the Second Amendment ought to be read, in the wake of Heller, as protecting American citizens' right to military service. This Essay furthers that argument by exploring two critical contexts in which Heller was written: the link between full citizenship and military service and the demographic, technological, and geopolitical changes that have remade the U.S. military since its colonial origins. Today's Second Amendment, like today's military, must protect far more than it once did. All qualified citizens-regardless of gender or sexual orientation-hold the right to military service.

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