“The message here is that an outsider fighting the status quo in the defense of constitutional rights not only does so on his own dime, but does so without much expectation of compensation even if he prevails.”

December 31st, 2011

Scott Greenfield on the $1 million award Gura, et al, received for their litigation on the Heller case.

 This is an incentive to lawyers to stay clear of big cases, hard arguments, the overarching constitutional issues that need a champion.  What Judge Sullivan tacitly told Gura is champions go hungry.

For all the zealots who find it simple to spill a few thousand words on how clear and easy it is the scream about constitutional rights, somebody, some lawyer, has to be the grunt who actually makes it happen.  The risk he takes to secure your rights is enormous, enough to crush a person in spirit as well as financially.  You make silly noise about it.  The lawyer puts in the hard work, long hours, personal risk, that actually accomplishes something.

Yet Alan Gura, for better or worse, accepted the responsibility of defending your rights.  For his efforts, he was taught an expensive lesson by Judge Sullivan.  For those of you who delight at his accomplishment, rather than send him a love note and your undying appreciation, send him a check, and send another one to the nonprofits who stood beside him.  This may be your entitlement, but its Gura’s work.  If you love your constitutional rights, show it by your willingness to pay the people who defended them for you.

Disclosure, I was a research assistant for Gura and the team on Heller way-back-when. I received and will receive no compensation.