When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is cast as the swing vote in a case before the Court, he often waits until late in the oral argument to tip his hand.

But as the Court considered the landmark Second Amendment case D.C. v. Heller on Tuesday, Kennedy was quick to lay bare his view on the scope of the right to bear arms contained in the amendment. The first part, he said, was meant to reaffirm “the existence and the importance” of the treatment of state militias contained in the Constitution itself. The second part, Kennedy asserted, means that “in addition” there is a right to bear arms, which he later declared was a “general right.”

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