Adam Winkler

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Adam Winkler

Adam Winkler (born July 25, 1967) is a professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law. He is the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America,[1] and a commentator about legal issues.

Early life and education[edit]

Winkler, born and raised in Los Angeles, is the youngest son of Academy-Award winning film producer Irwin Winkler. As a child, he had small acting parts in movies, including appearing as the son of Robert De Niro and Liza Minnelli in Martin Scorsese's New York, New York (1977).

Professional career[edit]

Winkler holds a Bachelor in the Science of Foreign Service from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, a Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law, and a Master's degree from UCLA in political science. He served as a law clerk to judge David Thompson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 1995-96. As a young lawyer, Winkler practiced with prominent trial lawyer Howard Weitzman and represented Michael Jackson in his defense against charges of sexual assault.

He has taught at UCLA School of Law since 2002,[2] receiving tenure in 2007. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, he was the John M. Olin Fellow at the University of Southern California Law School from 2001-02. Winkler's views on matters of constitutional law are reflected in his professional association with the Constitutional Society and, as a blog contributor, with the Huffington Post.


Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America

Winkler is a nationally recognized expert on American constitutional law. A frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast, his commentary and opinion pieces have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, National Public Radio, The Tavis Smiley Show, and The National Law Journal.

His writing on the right to bear arms, which is notable for its middle-of-the-road position—recognizing both the individual right to possess firearms and the legitimacy of effective gun control—has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous lower courts.[3] His book Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America details the importance of the right to bear arms throughout American history, while also showing how that right has been balanced with laws to enhance gun safety since the founding era. Leading gun-rights advocate Dave Kopel called Gunfight "one of the few genuinely moderate books ever written on" the right to bear arms.[4]

Winkler has also written extensively on the political speech rights of corporations, work that has also been cited by the Supreme Court.[5]

He is also known for his empirical scholarship on constitutional law issues, including a much-cited[citation needed] quantitative study[6][better source needed] that disproved the well accepted legal maxim that strict scrutiny—a test courts apply to determine the constitutionality of burdens on fundamental rights—is "'strict' in theory, but fatal in fact." Examining 14 years of federal court decisions, Winkler found that laws survived strict scrutiny 30% of the time and that, in at least one area of law—religious freedom—constitutional law's most rigorous test resulted in the law being upheld in nearly 60% of cases.[6] In other work, Winkler found that federalism was a hidden factor in free speech jurisprudence, with nearly 56% of federal laws burdening core speech rights upheld, compared to 23% of state laws and only 3% of local laws.[7]

Winkler also writes in the field of legal history. In addition to Gunfight, he has scholarly articles on the origins of campaign finance law,[8] the women's suffrage movement,[9] and the regulation of political parties.[10] He has also written on affirmative action, the right to vote, judicial independence, and international sanctions.[citation needed]

Along with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Leonard Levy and UCLA School of Law professor Kenneth Karst, Winkler edited the six-volume Encyclopedia of the American Constitution.[11]


  1. ^ Winkler, Adam (2011). Gunfight. WW Norton.
  2. ^ "Faculty Profiles > Full-Time Faculty > Adam Winkler". UCLA School of Law.
  3. ^ District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 691 (2008) (Breyer, J., dissenting); McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 3020, 3113 (2010) (Breyer, J., dissenting); U.S. v. Yancey, 621 F.3d 681, 685 (2010); U.S. v. McCane, 573 F.3d 1037, 1048 (2009); Wilson v. State, 207 P.3d 565, 585 (2009).
  4. ^ "Gun Control Legislation Debate after the Tucson shootings" (MP3). January 21, 2011.[dubious ]
  5. ^ Citizens United v. Federal Election Com'n, 558 U.S. __, 130 S.Ct. 876, 953 (2010) (Stevens, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).
  6. ^ a b Adam Winkler, Fatal in Theory and Strict in Fact: An Empirical Analysis of Strict Scrutiny in the Federal Courts, 59 Vand. L. Rev. 793 (2006).
  7. ^ Adam Winkler, Free Speech Federalism, 108 Mich. L. Rev. 153 (2009).
  8. ^ Adam Winkler, "Other People's Money": Corporations, Agency Costs, and Campaign Finance Law, 92 Geo. L.J. 871 (2004)
  9. ^ Adam Winkler, A Revolution Too Soon: Woman Suffragists and the "Living Constitution", 76 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1456 (2001).
  10. ^ Adam Winkler, Voters' Rights and Parties' Wrongs: Early Political Party Regulation in the State Courts, 1886-1915, 100 Colum. L. Rev. 873 (2000).
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of the American Constitution (Leonard W. Levy et al. eds., 2d ed. 2000).