Supreme Court Firearms Lawsuit Winners Fired From Firm

This week, the attorneys who won a landmark Second Amendment lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court were forced to step down from the prestigious law firm for which they worked.

Kirkland & Ellis instructed Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, the attorneys who effectively argued against New York’s statute regulating concealed carry licenses, to stop defending Second Amendment litigants or find another firm.

The pair stated in a Wall Street Journal piece why their joy ended prematurely. 

Decision and Statement

“Having just achieved a landmark victory upholding the Second Amendment rights of our clients in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, we were faced with a difficult choice: to withdraw from defending them or quit from the firm,” they said.

“We had just one option. We could not dump our clients merely because their views were unpopular in certain circles.”

On Thursday, the Supreme Court decided 6-3 that New York’s limits on gun licenses infringed the Second and Fourteenth Amendments, dealing a blow to gun control.

Per the Wall Street Journal, the ruling was largely considered the most significant expansion of gun rights in more than a decade. 

The lawsuit centered on a 1911 New York state statute that placed the right to a concealed handgun license dependent on “moral character” and “worthy cause.”

In the majority judgment, Justice Clarence Thomas argued New Yorkers might not be asked to demonstrate why they need to exercise a constitutionally protected right. 

“We are unaware of any other fundamental right a person may enjoy only after showing a unique need to government officials,” Thomas adds.

“This is not how the First Amendment applies to controversial speech or to religious liberty.”

“This is not how the Sixth Amendment applies to the right of a defendant to confront witnesses against him. This is not how the Second Amendment applies to self-defense carried in public.” 

“May Issues”

The ruling has ramifications for at least eight additional so-called “may issue” states, in which bureaucrats have the last word on whether or not a person deserves a permit.

In New York, the statute was used to make it nearly impossible to obtain concealed carry permits. 

Clement, who acted as U.S. state attorney general under George W. Bush, and Murphy, who was also an accomplished appellate litigator, were partners in the company.

However, they became committed to departing after being informed they could not handle Second Amendment issues. 

They wrote, “This is not the first time we left a firm to remain loyal to a client.”

“This situation is unique since the firm authorized our engagement of these customers years ago; removing them would cost the clients months of institutional memory.”

“Even more astonishing, in one of the cases we were ordered to drop, we succeeded on Thursday before the Supreme Court.”