A Judge Temporarily Protects the NRA’s First Amendment Rights

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posted on December 13, 2019
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Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

The front has widened against our constitutionally protected freedoms. In New York and California, the NRA is fighting for its First Amendment rights like never before.

In the latest legal battle in this struggle, a federal judge on December 11 blocked enforcement of a Los Angeles law that requires companies bidding for city contracts to disclose ties they have with the NRA. By granting the NRA’s request for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson took a strong stand in support of all who believe in America’s constitutional freedoms.

“This is an important win for the NRA and our members,” said the NRA. “In a strong rebuke of the city’s actions, the ordinance is banned from taking effect. Coupled with the NRA’s recent victory against the City of San Francisco, the ruling sends a powerful message to those government officials who would take any actions that are adverse to the NRA because they dislike its political speech.”

In his decision, Judge Wilson wrote, “It is not within the public interest to subject potential city contractors to a disclosure requirement motivated by political animus and completely unrelated to their ability to perform the job.”

Clearly, city officials overstepped. The reality is, if a city is willing to discriminate against companies with ties to the NRA, how long will it be before that city demands to know if its employees are NRA members? How long before that city discriminates against people individually?

Following the court’s decision, NRA attorney Chuck Michel said, “As predicted, the court confirmed that the 1st Amendment prohibits politicians from censoring the NRA’s message of freedom, safety and self-reliance, and the city cannot discriminate against those who support the NRA’s efforts.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has tried similar tactics. At Gov. Cuomo’s direction, the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) issued official regulatory guidance to all banks and insurance companies doing business in New York, urging them to “discontinue . . . [business] arrangements” with the NRA and other so-called “gun promotion” organizations. 

“We must push further to ensure that gun safety is a top priority for every individual, company and organization that does business across the state,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press release. “I am directing the Department of Financial Services to urge insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any relationship they may have with the NRA or similar organizations sends the wrong message.”

DFS then sent out letters telling companies they would face “reputational risk” if they do business with organizations such as the NRA.

The NRA believes and alleges that many of these actions amount to a “blacklisting campaign”—an effort to intimidate the NRA’s potential business partners, choke off its access to financial services, and retaliate against it based on the viewpoint of its speech.

The NRA filed a lawsuit on May 11, 2018, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York. On November 6, 2018, U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy issued a highly anticipated decision in response to the State’s efforts to have the case dismissed. Judge McAvoy upheld the NRA’s First Amendment freedom-of-speech claims—the crux of its complaint. The court also upheld the NRA’s equal protection claims.

James Freeman, an editor of The Wall Street Journal editorial page, writes of the decision, “...no elected official in the country has more aggressively sought to limit free speech rights than Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Now he will have to answer for it in court…. There is an enormous interest for all Americans in making sure that a politician like Mr. Cuomo cannot abuse his authority to silence law-abiding citizens with whom he disagrees.”

We couldn’t agree more. The NRA will continue to advocate for its members and the constitutional freedoms in which we all

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