56 UCLA L. Rev. 1551 (2008-2009)
Heller's Catch-22; Winkler, Adam

handle is hein.journals/uclalr56 and id is 1561 raw text is: HELLER'S CATCH-22

Adam Winkler
Joseph Heller's satire Catch-22 has become a classic for its revealing look at the
illogic, inconsistency, and circular reasoning common in modern bureaucratic life.
This Article uses Heller's novel to frame a critical analysis of the recent landmark
Second Amendment decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that carries the Catch-22
author's surname, District of Columbia v. Heller. The majority opinion in Heller
suffers from many of the missteps and contradictions Heller's novel identified.
Although hailed as a triumph of originalism, the opinion paradoxically relies on a
thoroughly modern understanding of gun rights. Justice Scalia has argued that
originalism is necessary to preserve the legitimacy of the Court, but Heller is more
likely to be accepted as legitimate precisely because Scalia's opinion departed from the
original meaning of the Second Amendment. Moreover, this celebrated landmark
decision has had almost no effect on the constitutionality of gun control. To date, the
federal courts have yet to invalidate a single gun control law for violating the Second
Amendment right to bear arms, despite scores of cases. While some laws are sure to
be invalidated in time, the new Second Amendment's bark is far worse than its right.
The greatest irony is that Heller's logical flaws and inconsistencies improve the
decision, making it more likely to endure and helping to cement a reasonable, not
radical, right to bear arms.
INTRODUCTION                   ..........................................................1551
1.  THE UNREASONABLE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS ...........................................................1553
II.  HELLER: THE TRIUMPH OF ORIGINALISM    ..............................................................1557
III. SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED          ............................................1565
IV. FOR THE SECURITY OF A FREE ... HOME?..................             ...............1568
V .  R EASON 'S  PHO EN IX....................................................................................................1573
INTRODUCTION
Joseph Heller's satirical novel Catch-22 is a classic of American literature.
The novel, which follows the travails of a group of military airmen in World
*    Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law. Thanks to Rhianna Bauer and Tina Mehr for
excellent research assistance, and to Seth Korman, Julia Shear Kushner, Jordan Woods, and the
other editors of the UCLA Law Review. Please address comments to winkler@ucla.edu.
1.  JOSEPH HELLER, CATCH-22 (1961).

1551

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