The lead attorneys who argued the DC Gun Ban Case, District of Columbia v. Heller, discuss the strategies that won and lost the case.
The panel is hosted by the Patton Boggs Foundation and includes Walter Dellinger, lead counsel for the District of Columbia in Heller and Alan Gura, lead counsel for plaintiff Heller.
The panel is moderated by Lorianne Updike, Esq., co-founder of ConSource.org, the online library of primary constitutional sources containing many of the primary sources used in Heller.
Walter Dellinger is the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law at Duke University. He returned to Duke in August, 1997, after having served as acting Solicitor General for the 1996-97 Term of the Supreme Court. Dellinger argued nine cases before the Court, the most by any Solicitor General in more than twenty years. His arguments included cases dealing with physician assisted suicide, the line item veto, the cable television act, the Brady Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the constitutionality of remedial services for parochial school children.
After serving in early 1993 in the White House as an advisor to the President on constitutional issues, Dellinger was nominated by the President to be Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and was confirmed by the Senate for that position in October, 1993. During his three years as Assistant Attorney General he served as the Department's principal legal advisor to the Attorney General and the President.
As head of OLC, Dellinger issued opinions on a wide variety of issues, including the President's authority to deploy United States forces in Haiti and Bosnia; whether the President may decline to enforce statutes he believes are unconstitutional; affirmative action; religious activity in public schools; whether the Uruguay Round GATT Agreements required treaty ratification, and a major review of separation of powers questions.
He provided extensive legal advice on loan guarantees for Mexico, on national debt ceiling issues, and on issues arising out of the shutdown of the federal government.
Mr. Gura's practice focuses primarily on civil and appellate litigation, with an emphasis on intellectual property, constitutional law, and civil rights.
Prior to founding Gura & Possessky, PLLC, Mr. Gura began his career by serving as a law clerk to the Honorable Terrence W. Boyle, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Subsequently, as a Deputy Attorney General for the State of California, Mr. Gura defended the State of California and its employees from all manner of lawsuits, in state and federal courts, at trial and on appeal. Thereafter, Mr. Gura entered the private practice of law with the Washington, D.C. offices of Sidley & Austin. In February 2000, he left the firm to serve for a year as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight.
Alan Gura is admitted as an active member in good standing in the District of Columbia Bar, the Virginia State Bar, and the State Bar of California. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, Eleventh, Federal, and District of Columbia Circuits; and the United States District Courts for the District of Columbia, the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Central, Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of California.
Alan Gura is a 1995 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. He is also a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government, with Distinction in All Subjects, in 1992.
During his more than 30 years of practice, John Oberdorfer has established himself as an extraordinary practitioner at handling complex litigation. His many successful cases demonstrate his ability to work in uncharted waters and develop new and creative arguments and solutions. He prides himself on communicating complex issues in a straightforward, understandable, and persuasive way.
Mr. Oberdorfer has a broad practice that focuses on matters involving the federal government, federal laws, and the U.S. Constitution. Three prime areas of concentration are complex civil and government investigations (both in the U.S. and internationally), the defense of securities accounting cases, and class actions.
He has successfully litigated Fifth Amendment takings cases, as well as First Amendment commercial speech cases. In his securities defense work, he represents clients before the SEC, in court cases brought by the SEC, and in shareholder class actions. He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in class actions. Mr. Oberdorfer chaired Patton Boggs' litigation department for many years and has served on the firm's Executive Committee.
Lorianne Updike is Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Constitutional Sources Project, or ConSource. In that role, she manages an executive committee of three, over 50 volunteers, and serves as the liaison for 31 board members.
Previous to joining ConSource full time, Ms. Updike taught First Amendment and Intellectual Property Law as part of several communication courses, including Advanced Communications Law, Communications Law and Ethics, and Introduction to Communications as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University.
She has also taught a weekly Constitutional Law review course for first year law students at J. Reuben Clark Law School, where she graduated magna cum laude in April 2005.
Ms. Updike has also published in the Constitutional Law field. She authored "The 'Wall of Separation Between Church & State:' Constitutional Fact or Fiction?," for which she won two awards and a cash fellowship, and co-authored two articles in a series, Supreme Court Voting Behavior: 2002 Term, and Supreme Court Voting Behavior: 2003 Term in the 31st and 32nd issues of Hastings Constitutional Law Review Quarterly.
Ms. Updike externed at Hunt & Hunt in Sydney, Australia summer of 2003, and worked at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP in Washington, D.C. as a summer associate in 2004.
Previous to beginning her legal career, Ms. Updike worked at a high-tech public relations firm and worked or served in communications management for several non-profits, including the Charity Ball, the Jacobsen Center for Service and Learning, the Family Caucus, and Brigham Young University Student Service Association. She graduated in three years with a BA in Communications, emphasis in Public Relations from Brigham Young University in 2000.