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Even before the Supreme Court granted review on Nov. 20 in the Second Amendment case of District of Columbia v. Heller — setting the stage for the Court’s first hard look in nearly 70 years at the meaning of the amendment — calls were rolling in from lawyers wanting to argue the plaintiff’s case against D.C.’s strict handgun control ordinance. “Not interested,” was the response they got from Robert Levy, the Cato Institute scholar who bankrolled the litigation. Levy and Clark Neily had already promised the gig to Virginian Alan Gura of Gura & Possessky, who has handled the case from the start. “Alan is being paid subsistence wages, and this was part of the deal — to take the case all the way through,” says Levy, who has no qualms about going with a high court novice. “He’s done a terrific job so far.” That means Gura, a civil litigator who once worked at Sidley Austin, will go up against veteran Alan Morrison, the former Public Citizen lawyer who is now special counsel to D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer. The remaining question mark: whether the solicitor general will be asked to weigh in and argue, too. If so, there’s no doubt about new Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s stance. In written answers to Senate questions during his confirmation last month, nominee Mukasey stated flatly, “I believe the Second Amendment does guarantee an individual right.” The case will likely be argued next March and decided by June, ensuring that the contentious issue of gun rights — and the role of the Supreme Court — will have prominence in the 2008 presidential campaign.
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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