The Supreme Court will hear a case involving a NY Official’s Attempt to “Blacklist” the NRA despite a controversial judgment issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
“This is a historic step forward for free speech, the NRA’s millions of members, and for all who believe in freedom,” says NRA CEO & EVP Wayne LaPierre.”
Former New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Maria Vullo initiated two unrelated actions against the NRA, allegedly at the request of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, one of which successfully shut down an NRA program. DFS opened an investigation in 2017 into “Carry Guard,” an NRA-endorsed insurance program.
What limits should we expect to be placed upon governmental officials with regard to their ability to weaponize their office against their so-called political enemies.
The NRA alleges that under the guise of advancing a gun-control agenda, “Vullo: (1) warned regulated institutions that doing business with Second Amendment advocacy groups posed ‘reputational risk’ of concern to DFS; (2) secretly offered leniency to insurers for unrelated infractions if they dropped the NRA, and (3) extracted highly-publicized and over-reaching consent orders, and multi-million dollar penalties, from firms that formerly served the NRA.”
The Vullo-endorsed campaign began with an investigation into the NRA’s involvement with certain widely offered affinity insurance products. New York failed to investigate other similar insurance offerings – and was the only state to take such action against the NRA.
This is not thefirst time state officials have leveraged their regulatory power to suppress a disfavored civil rights organization or choke off disfavored speech. The NRA's petition emphasizes a long line of First Amendment cases – from seminal decisions involving the NAACP, to the Supreme Court's storied Bantam Books decision – that forbid such tactics.
“The Second Circuit’s opinion…gives state officials free rein to financially blacklist their political opponents – from gun rights groups to abortion-rights groups, to environmentalist groups, and beyond,” states the NRA in its petition. The Association argues that the Second Circuit has erroneously opened the door to unrestrained harassment of advocacy groups by state officials and seeks to have it closed.
Even the ACLU supports the NRA stating “If Cuomo can do this to the NRA, then conservative governors could have their financial regulators threaten banks and financial institutions that do business with any other group whose political views the governor opposes. The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.”