The Washington Post leads with a D.C. federal appeals court ruling that the District’s longtime ban on handguns in the home is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. It’s the first time a federal court has overturned a gun control law on the basis of an individual’s right to bear arms. Hugo Chavez versus George Bush leads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal’s news box and reefers above the fold in the Los Angeles Times. Chavez, president of oil-rich Venezuela, called ethanol fuel “a crazy thing” and mocked President Bush’s vows to help fight poverty and illiteracy in Latin America made in Brazil on the first day of a long trip through the region. The LAT leads with lawmakers calling for fresh Patriot Act restrictions after Friday’s Justice Department report that the FBI has been misusing its power to access phone records and e-mails.
The D.C. handgun ruling is also above the fold in the NYT. The new decision flies against nine other federal appeals courts that have ruled the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms only applies to state militias. The WP provides all the local fallout: The ruling does not make it legal to carry guns outside the home, saying the city has “a right to regulate and require the registration of firearms but not to ban them in homes.” D.C. will appeal; the WP suggests the case is ripe for Supreme Court review without really explaining why.
Lots more detail about the Justice Department report on the FBI, which everyone puts above the fold. Overall, the use of such requests (called “national security letters”) grew from 8,500 in 2000 to a peak of 56,000 in 2004. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is even more outspoken, saying as a Patriot Act supporter he was counting on the FBI to use its powers with great restraint, according to the LAT. The WP says the Senate Judiciary Committee may hold hearings to further curtail the FBI’s surveillance powers with new restrictions on the Patriot Act.
The papers also further explain why this new finding is distinct from earlier revelations of wire tapping or big data dumps: This time, it’s personal. The WP, in a separate front-pager, gives a detailed account of the “intimate” nature of the information collected through these letters on nearly 52,000 people, and how little of it relates to terrorism. The NYT off-lead also describes the cooperation of phone companies and internet service providers, which the investigation found provided information on more than 3,000 phone numbers. “One letter demanding telephone toll-billing records yielded voice messages because a recipient was overly cooperative,” said the NYT. “Another letter demanding e-mail transaction records was answered by e-mail contents and images.”
Below the fold, the WP highlights the return to coal as a primary source of energy, with up to 150 new plants possibly built by 2030. They would put out enough carbon dioxide to overwhelm any plans to cut emissions currently on the table. But energy executives say that demand is rising so fast they have no other way to keep up. The NYT goes inside with a big day in Europe, as a squabbling EU panel finally agrees to set even more ambitious emissions targets (20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020) but with lots of leeway for poor members.
Also on energy, the LAT goes inside with a look at ethanol, concluding that it’s not likely to be a primary fuel source soon. That is, unless we use every acre of corn for gas. And the WSJ says the Bush administration’s deal with Brazil to import more biofuels, like ethanol, won’t make a dent in U.S. ethanol supply. Bush also flatly told Brazil’s president that cutting U.S. sugar cane tariffs is “not going to happen,” according the NYT.
The NYT says Democrats are split about exactly how to approach an Iraq pullout, in a tell-us-something-we-didn’t-know piece below the fold. But Republicans, says the WSJ in a front-page profile, are so confused about their own positions that Newt Gingrich has quietly snuck back into the mix as a serious ‘08 candidate. John Edwards in Iowa, on the other hand, is enjoying the freedom of getting much less attention than Clinton and Obama, says the NYT inside.
The LAT fronts a look at the split in the Evangelical political coalition, mainly between those who want to stay focused on traditional values issues, like marriage and abortion, and those seeking to highlight the environment and social justice in a bid for broader appeal.
Way inside, the WP asks Iraq analysts for a report card on Bush’s new strategy. The administration is right to say that seizures of weapons are up. But it’s misleading to take credit for decreased violence: Militants are just waiting for U.S. troops to leave, the paper says.