You Won Your Gun Case. You're Fired.


Paul Clement


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A 6-3 victory on the Supreme Court vindicating a constitutional proper is normally trigger for congratulations, however not today at Kirkland & Ellis, the enormous white-shoe legislation agency. The agency has rewarded associate Paul Clement for his triumph Thursday within the large New York gun-rights case (see close by) by telling him to drop his gun purchasers or go away the agency.

As Mr. Clement and his litigation associate, Erin Murphy, clarify close by, they’re leaving the agency fairly than dump their purchasers. That’s the honorable and moral determination.

But it’s value noting how extraordinary it’s for a legislation agency to fireside its victorious purchasers whose rights have been upheld by no fewer than six Justices. It’s as if the legislation agency representing Clarence Gideon had instructed him to get misplaced after the Supreme Court upheld his proper to authorized counsel in his well-known 1963 case, Gideon v. Wainwright.

“Kirkland & Ellis announced today its decision to no longer represent clients with respect to matters involving the interpretation of the Second Amendment,” the agency mentioned in a press launch, with out rationalization. It added that Mr. Clement and Ms. Murphy “will be leaving the firm in order to continue their full range of existing representations.”

That’s not how Kirkland felt when it recruited Mr. Clement and his celebrated appellate authorized observe in 2016. A former U.S. Solicitor General, Mr. Clement was already representing the National Rifle Association and others concerned in Second Amendment litigation on the time, and he made retention of these purchasers a situation of becoming a member of Kirkland.

But today gun-rights advocates are unpopular within the tony precincts of Los Angeles and New York the place Kirkland represents enterprise purchasers. When it involves core constitutional rights versus company retainers that finance summer season houses within the Hamptons, the Constitution is a second-class citizen.

This is the other of moral authorized illustration. Clients who’re unpopular are essentially the most in want of authorized counsel. Lawyers drop purchasers who lie or don’t pay their payments. But Mr. Clement’s gun purchasers are people and state gun teams, such because the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, which received its case on the High Court on Thursday. Kirkland is dumping purchasers who’ve finished nothing mistaken and have instances at the moment in litigation. As Mr. Clement and Ms. Murphy put it, “We could not abandon ongoing representations just because a client’s position is unpopular in some circles.”

As it occurs, that is the second time Mr. Clement has had a white-shoe legislation agency bail on certainly one of his purchasers. In 2011 King & Spalding dropped the U.S. House of Representatives after the House had retained Mr. Clement to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. Mr. Clement left King & Spalding to begin his personal observe earlier than becoming a member of Kirkland. He and Ms. Murphy now plan to open their very own appellate agency.

Kirkland’s invertebrate abdication illustrates how progressive ideology dominates the commanding heights of American legislation, enterprise and tradition. If you wish to know why a groundswell of opposition towards this woke conformity is constructing within the provinces, that is it.

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Appeared within the June 24, 2022, print version as ‘You Won Your Case. You’re Fired.’