The attorneys who won a significant victory for the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court this week barely finished celebrating their win before the white-shoe law firm they worked for forced them to quit.
Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, the attorneys who successfully argued against New York’s unconstitutional law restricting concealed-carry gun permits, were told by their law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, that they had one choice to make — stop representing Second Amendment plaintiffs or find another firm to work for.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Clement and Murphy explained the details behind their departure.
“Having just secured a landmark decision vindicating our clients’ constitutional Second Amendment rights in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, we were presented with a stark choice—withdraw from representing them or withdraw from the firm,” the lawyers wrote.
Apparently, Kirkland & Ellis expected Clement and Murphy to choose a paycheck over their principles. Luckily for the duo’s clients, the firm was incorrect.
“There was only one choice: We couldn’t abandon our clients simply because their positions are unpopular in some circles,” the pair wrote.
Congratulations!? Lawyers Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, who won Thursday's concealed-weapons case, leave Kirkland & Ellis after firm said it wouldn’t take any more Second Amendment clients https://t.co/shGkbI1yQL via @WSJ
— Jess Bravin (@JessBravin) June 24, 2022
Clement, who was the U.S. solicitor general under former President George W. Bush, and Murphy, who is also an experienced appellate attorney, were partners at Kirkland & Ellis before being pushed out after they were told they could no longer take on Second Amendment cases.
“This isn’t the first time we have left a firm to stick by a client,” the attorneys wrote. “What makes this circumstance different is that the firm approved our representation of these clients years ago, and dropping them would cost the clients years of institutional memory. More remarkable still, in one of the cases we were asked to drop, we prevailed in the Supreme Court on Thursday.”
Clement and Murphy won a decisive victory for gun rights on Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that New York’s restrictions on concealed-carry permits violated both the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. According to the Wall Street Journal, the ruling has been described as the widest expansion of gun rights in over a decade.
The case centered around a 1911 New York state law which made it so that individuals applying for the right to carry a concealed weapon had to demonstrate “good moral character” and “proper cause.”
In his majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that citizens of New York could not be required to demonstrate a need to exercise a Constitutional right.
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Thomas wrote. “That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
This decision doesn’t just effect New York. In fact, eight other blue states across the country are also known as “may issue” states, where bureaucrats have the final say in whether a citizen’s need to carry a concealed weapon merits a permit. In New York, the law is essentially used to make concealed carry handgun permits almost impossible to obtain. Other states with similar laws that will be affected by the ruling include California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.