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Law professor contributes to Supreme Court brief

  • William W. Van Alstyne
    William W. Van Alstyne  Along with seven other scholars of constitutional law, Van Alstyne filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the second amendment rights case of McDonald v. Chicago.  Photo courtesy of the W&M Law School
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William & Mary Law School Lee Professor William W. Van Alstyne has contributed to and signed an amicus curiae brief in McDonald v. Chicago, an important Second Amendment case pending before the Supreme Court.   The Constitutional Accountability Center filed the brief on behalf of Van Alstyne and seven other nationally known constitutional law scholars in support of the petitioners.  The question presented in the case is whether the right to keep and bear arms, which is enforceable against the federal government, is similarly enforceable against state and local governments.  Van Alstyne and the amici declare that it is.

“A comprehensive, historically accurate review of the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Van Alstyne says, “leaves no doubt that among the principal objectives of enacting the Fourteenth Amendment was forbidding any state from attempting to deprive a citizen of the United States of the means to defend themselves, their homes, and their families from immediate lethal threats.  The Second Amendment right was among the most frequently given examples of a citizen’s ‘privilege’ and ‘immunity’ to be secured from confiscatory or prohibitory state legislation.”

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in McDonald v. Chicago on March 2, 2010.  Professor Van Alstyne is available to comment on all aspects of the case.

Van Alstyne joined the faculty of William & Mary Law School in 2004.  He earned a B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Southern California and a J.D. magna cum laude from Stanford Law School, where he was Articles and Book Review Editor of the Stanford Law Review.  He previously held appointments at Duke Law School and Ohio State University Law School. 

Van Alstyne is widely regarded as one of the nation’s most preeminent constitutional law scholars.  His writings have appeared in the principal law journals in the United States, with frequent republication in foreign journals.  His work has been cited by numerous courts, including the Supreme Court.  In January 2000, the Journal of Legal Studies named Van Alstyne in the top forty most frequently cited legal scholars in the U.S.