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Winning SCOTUS litigators say Kirkland gave them a choice: Abandon gun clients or leave

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Handgun on top of a black concealed-carry-permit application form

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The appellate litigators who established a Second Amendment right to carry guns outside the home in the U.S. Supreme Court are leaving Kirkland & Ellis because of a decision by the law firm.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Kirkland partners Paul Clement and Erin Murphy said the law firm offered them a “stark choice”: Drop their gun clients or withdraw from the firm.

“There was only one choice: We couldn’t abandon our clients simply because their positions are unpopular in some circles,” Clement and Murphy wrote.

The litigators are forming a new appellate boutique, Clement & Murphy, report, Politico and Reuters.

The Supreme Court ruled in their case June 23, when it struck down a New York requirement that “proper cause” must be shown to obtain a concealed-carry gun license. The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen.

Clement and Murphy also represent gun owners asking the Supreme Court to strike down restrictions on magazine capacity, according to

“The American legal profession’s willingness to take on and stand by controversial clients has made our system of justice the envy of the world,” Clement and Murphy said in their op-ed. “The profession shouldn’t back down from its willingness to tackle the most divisive issues. We certainly won’t.”

Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general, also left another law firm over a client in 2011. Clement left when King & Spalding dropped its representation of House Republicans defending a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriages.

After leaving King & Spalding, Clement joined Bancroft, which was acquired by Kirkland.

Jon Ballis, the chairman of Kirkland’s executive committee, said in a statement Clement and Murphy were “valued colleagues,” and the firm looks forward to collaborating with them on future matters not involving the Second Amendment.

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