Firm News

San Francisco’s Farella Braun + Martel and Goodin Macbride File Historians’ Briefs in U.S. Supreme Court to Support Handgun Ban

January 6, 2010 Announcement

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 6, 2010:  Two San Francisco law firms, Farella Braun + Martel and Goodin MacBride Squeri Day & Lamprey, today filed amicus briefs on behalf of groups of history professors in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of local and state handgun bans. 

The McDonald case comes on the heels of District of Columbia v. Heller, the controversial 5-4 Supreme Court decision recognizing a Second Amendment right to keep handguns in the home for self-defense.  That decision, which invalidated a Washington, D.C. handgun ban, relied heavily on early American history in holding that the right can be enforced against the federal government.  It left open, however, whether the Second Amendment similarly restricts state and municipal governments.  McDonald is poised to settle that remaining question and again to draw extensively from English and early American history. 

The Farella Braun + Martel brief shows that the Second Amendment's primary concern was protecting a right to keep and bear arms so that men could fulfill their civic obligation to defend the community, rather than the individual self-defense right recognized in Heller.  The Goodin brief explains the history and meaning of the right to "have arms" in the 1689 English Declaration of Rights, which the Supreme Court ruled in Heller was the source of the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms." 

Both briefs cite extensively to original source material of the time period, as well as the work of leading scholars in 17th and 18th century English history and early American history.  Combined, the briefs reflect the work of 25 historians from a diversity of universities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, University of Kentucky, George Washington University, Washington University, and the University of Georgia. 

"Our clients' scholarship highlights history that earlier cases overlooked when analyzing the right to keep and bear arms," said Farella partner Roderick M. Thompson, counsel of record for his firm's amici.  "This history is vital to understanding whether the Second Amendment can restrict local and state efforts to enforce common-sense regulations to prevent gun violence and accidents."   

The team of historians represented by Goodin MacBride includes Lois G. Schwoerer, Elmer Louis Kayser Professor of History Emerita at George Washington University; Steven Pincus, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for the Yale University History Department; Linda Colley, Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University; and Tim Harris, Munro-Goodwin-Wilkinson Professor of European History at Brown University and a past fellow of Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge.

The historians represented by Farella are Jane E. Calvert, a history professor at the University of Kentucky; Paul Finkelman, the President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy at Albany Law School; Thomas Hamm, professor of history at Earlham College; and Nathan Kozuskanich, a history professor at Nipissing University. 

"The strong consensus from this very impressive group on the origin of the Second Amendment right should carry weight with the Court," said the author of the Goodin MacBride brief, partner Francine T. Radford.

Farella's appellate team included partners Dennis Cusack and Neil Goteiner; associates Scott Andrews, Paul Alsdorf and Diego Acevedo; and paralegals Fernando Esponda and Edgar Quezada. 

The Goodin MacBride brief was authored by Radford, aided by counsel of record Robert A. Goodin and of counsel Keith Johnson, with staff support from Danielle Albano and Arthur Newmark. 

Farella Braun + Martel represents clients throughout the United States and abroad in sophisticated business transactions and high-stakes commercial, civil and criminal litigation.  Founded in 1962, the firm is headquartered in San Francisco and maintains an office in the Napa Valley focused on the wine industry.  Farella Braun + Martel lawyers are known for their imaginative legal solutions, dynamism and intellectual creativity.  With an unwavering service ethic and interdisciplinary team approach, the firm is committed to advancing clients' objectives in the most effective, coordinated and efficient manner.  Farella Braun + Martel is a Green Business.

Over the past 20 years, Goodin, MacBride, Squeri, Day & Lamprey has developed a reputation as one of the premier "boutique" firms in San Francisco. The firm's public utilities practice assists telecom and energy companies of all types and sizes, and its commercial litigation and Qui Tam practices represent clients ranging from large international corporations to start-ups and privately held businesses, as well as individuals.