Postscript: How the Supreme Court Overturned a Century-Old Gun Law…and Changed American Jurisprudence


Today’s Postscript (a special series that allows scholars to comment on pressing contemporary issues) focuses on the US Supreme Court and the Second Amendment. It is hard to exaggerate the extent to which the most recent term of the U.S. Supreme Court changed the substance of the laws Americans live by and the method by which the Court determines whether a law is unconstitutional. The Court upended 50 years of abortion jurisprudence, challenged laws that govern tribal sovereignty, and undercut the power of Congress to make and implement laws regarding climate change. The abortion ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson consumed much of the press coverage and public outrage but our podcast conversation focuses New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The Supreme Court not only overturned a century-old statute regulating the concealed carrying of guns in public – it changed the rules for determining what is or is not protected by the US Constitution under the Second Amendment. The podcast engages the relationship between state gun policy and this new originalist methodology, the origins of so-called originalism in the 1980s, the role of secondary scholarship, Duke Center for Firearms Law searchable database’s role in providing evidence for legal claims, and whether analogical reasoning (or politics) have triumphed at the SCOTUS – and how to teach that to law students.

Joseph Blocher, Lanty L. Smith ’67 Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law and one of the attorneys who helped write the brief for the District of C in Heller. He co-authored The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller (Cambridge University Press, 2018) with Darrell Miller and his numerous influential law review articles are complemented by nuanced public facing scholarship.

Andrew Willinger is the Executive Director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law at Duke University Law School – and now writes commentary for the Center’s Second Thoughts blog. He joined the Center in June 2022, after practicing as a litigation associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York. At Patterson, Willinger litigated complex commercial disputes and false advertising and defamation cases. He previously clerked for Judge William L. Osteen, Jr. of the Middle District of North Carolina.

Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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Susan Liebell

Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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