Joseph Blocher

Professor of Law, Duke Law School
Chapter Member: North Carolina SSN
Areas of Expertise:
  • Law & Courts
  • Criminal Justice
  • Public Health

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About Joseph

Blocher teaches and writes about constitutional law, especially the First and Second Amendments. His recent work has focused on free speech and on the developing legal regime regarding gun rights and gun control, and has been cited by many federal courts. Before joining the faculty at Duke, he practiced in the appellate group of O’Melveny & Myers, where he assisted the merits briefing for the District of Columbia in District of Columbia v. Heller. He is also interested in the death penalty, and has worked with many organizations committed to providing adequate resources for capital defendants.


In the News

Joseph Blocher quoted on Second Amendment issues in Raven Clabough, "Anti-Gun Hysteria Drives Rise in Gun Sales, Concealed-Carry Permits" The New American, April 10, 2018.
Joseph Blocher quoted on rising gun sales in Erin Petenko, "Why N.J. Gun Sales are Rising Again after the 'Trump Slump'", March 29, 2018.
"Trump, Academics and Lawsuits Put Spotlight on Puerto Rico Statehood," Joseph Blocher, The Hill, February 2, 2018.
Joseph Blocher quoted in Ray Gronberg, "Upcoming at Duke, a Long Look at What Free Speech Means in Practice" Durham Herald Sun, January 23, 2018.
"Puerto Rico's Colonial Status Hinges on a New York Hedge Fund's Greed," Joseph Blocher (with Mitu Gulati), The Hill, November 25, 2017.
"The All (Un)important Vote That Cccurred in Puerto Rico," Joseph Blocher (with Mitu Gulati), The Hill, July 8, 2017.
"Court-Hacking Comes to North Carolina," Joseph Blocher (with Neil S. Siegel), News & Observer, November 19, 2016.
Joseph Blocher quoted on gun rights in Olivia Li, "Is Merrick Garland Anti-Gun? ‘It’s Impossible To Tell.’" The Trace, March 16, 2016.
"We Can Regulate Guns at the Local Level, Too," Joseph Blocher, New York Times, December 10, 2015.


"Firearm Localism" Yale Law Journal 123 (forthcoming).
Argues that Second Amendment doctrine can and should incorporate the longstanding and sensible American tradition of regulating guns more strictly in cities than in rural areas.
"The Right Not to Keep or Bear Arms" Stanford Law Review 64 (2012): 1-54.
Argues that the Second Amendment should be read to encompass both the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense AND the right to protect oneself by avoiding them altogether, and shows what implications the latter right may have.
"Popular Constitutionalism and State Attorneys General" Harvard Law Review Forum 122 (2011): 108-115.
Argues that the State Attorneys General who advocated incorporation of the Second Amendment against the states owe more to popular constitutionalism than to federalism.
"Categoricalism and Balancing in First and Second Amendment Analysis" NYU Law Review 84 (2009): 375-434.
Uses free speech law to describe and predict what Heller’s categoricalism means for Second Amendment doctrine. Argues that the Court’s categorical line drawing creates intractable difficulties for Second Amendment doctrine and theory and that the majority’s categoricalism neither reflects nor enables a clear view of the Amendment’s underlying values, whatever they may be.