NRA Defends Freedom in Supreme Court Argument

by
posted on March 19, 2024
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The NRA’s commitment to freedom was on full display again this week. 

On Monday, March 18, the Court heard oral arguments in the NRA v. Maria T. Vullo case – one of the nation’s most important First Amendment matters. Vullo is the former financial regulator in New York who tried to “financially blacklist” the NRA in 2018.

The NRA argues that Vullo, at the behest of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, took aim at the NRA and used the regulatory power of the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to financially blacklist the NRA – coercing banks and insurers to avoid ties with the Association in order to suppress its pro-Second Amendment speech.

The NRA argues that Vullo’s actions were meant to silence the NRA – using “guidance letters,” backroom threats, and other measures to cause financial institutions to “drop” the Association.

In response, on May 11, 2018, the NRA filed suit to enjoin the campaign and for money damages. After winning in the trial court, the NRA's case was dismissed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. Thereafter, the Association took its case to the highest court in the land. The NRA is joined by the ACLU, legal experts, constitutional scholars, and 25 states in opposing Vullo’s actions.

ACLU National Legal Director and NRA counsel David Cole argued on Monday that Vullo and other New York officials abused their authority in violation of the First Amendment, telling the justices: “There's no question on this record that they encouraged people to punish the NRA." Cole said, “It was a campaign by the state’s highest political officials to use their power to coerce a boycott of a political advocacy organization because they disagreed with its advocacy.”

The U.S. Department of Justice also sided with the NRA, as Assistant to the Solicitor General Ephraim McDowell argued that the court should find that New York officials violated the NRA’s First Amendment rights.

Twenty-two amicus briefs representing more than 190 individuals and organizations were filed in support of the NRA’s position, including a filing by several of the nation’s foremost First Amendment scholars. The amicus briefs also include a joint filing by dozens of congressional Republicans and filings by 25 state attorneys general. The support came from across the political spectrum. 

“This is the moment of truth for the NRA and its millions of members," says NRA interim EVP & CEO Andrew Arulanandam. "We were honored to be before the Supreme Court – protecting our First Amendment rights to defend Second Amendment freedom. We will never shrink from the fight to defend the values and freedoms of America."

NRA counsel William A. Brewer III said, “This case is important to the NRA and all advocacy organizations who rely upon the protections of the First Amendment. Every advocacy group will benefit if the Court reminds government officials that they cannot use intimidation tactics, backdoor censorship, or regulatory blacklisting to silence those with whom they disagree.”

George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley has said NRA v. Vullo “could prove to be one of the most important free speech cases of the decade.”

A ruling is expected this June.

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