With the Supreme Court examining for the first time in 70 years the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment, a group of gay and transgender gun owners called the Pink Pistols is one of 47 groups to have filed “amicus” briefs supporting a challenge to Washington, D.C..’s hangun ban, says the Washington Post. Alan Gura, is arguing the challenge to D.C.’s law March 18, said, “A well-crafted amicus brief is very important, especially when it presents a perspective that the parties simply can’t provide.”
Dennis J. Hutchinson, who teaches about the Supreme Court at the University of Chicago law school, agrees that friend-of-the-court briefs have become ubiquitous but is not convinced of their value. “The amici are serving their own clients first, and the court second,” he said. “The times they are really helpful is if both sides are amateurs at the court, and that doesn’t happen very often.” Infrequent signs of success are enough to convince Supreme Court practitioners that it is worth the effort. They speak reverentially of a 2003 brief filed by Washington lawyer Virginia Seitz on behalf of military officers defending affirmative action in a case involving the University of Michigan law school that was cited by then-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. referred to the brief both during oral arguments and in the 5 to 4 opinion she wrote in Grutter v. Bollinger upholding the law school’s use of race in the admissions process. In the gun case, a brief filed by five states on behalf of the law is countered by a brief filed by 31 states, supporting the challengers. One group of district attorneys is one side, a different group on another. The American Jewish Committee and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership take opposite views.