On the Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment at George Mason

October 13th, 2015

At the ACS Blog, Fordham LawProf Saul Cornell critiques an amicus brief filed in Wrenn v. District of Columbia concerning the right to keep and bear arms outside the home. The brief was filed on behalf of Joyce Malcolm, Robert J. Cottrol, Clayton Cramer, Nicholas Johnson, and David Kopel.

Cornell writes:

The NRA “historians’” brief was submitted on behalf of a gun-rights foundation in California and five individuals, only two of whom have PhD’s in history or a related discipline. One of those, Joyce Lee Malcolm, holds an NRA-funded chair at George Mason law school. It is the only chair I can think of which seems to carry an ideological litmus test for its holder.

This “litmus test” claim is false. I provide a statement by former George Mason Law School Dean Dan Poslby.

There is no litmus test for holding the Patrick Henry chair. It was established to support research into the second amendment as an individual right. There is no limitation to prevent someone with Saul Cornell’s views on the subject, on which he has written much, from holding it. The NRAF [NRA Foundation] did not request such a limitation or any other, excepting as to general subject matter (which is perfectly regular and reflected in wide practice in universities) when they provided the funding for the chair.

Disclosures:  Counsel of record in Wrenn is Alan Gura, who is my co-counsel on Defense Distributed v. Dep’t of State. Malcom was my professors at GMU. Polsby was my dean at GMU. I’ve spoken at NRA scholars conferences in 2010 and 2012–only my travel costs were reimbursed, and I was not compensated. I am also friendly with all of the other authors of the brief.