Supreme Court to Hear First Amendment Challenge from NRA

( – On March 18, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a case involving the First Amendment, which was brought by the National Rifle Association (NRA). The case, which is titled National Rifle Association of America v. Vullo, was brought against the former Superintendent of Financial Services for the New York Department of State, Maria T. Vullo. The NRA alleges that she was ordered by former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to coerce banks and insurers to blacklist the NRA.

The Supreme Court must answer whether a government hostile to a speaker’s viewpoint can threaten government-regulated entities with additional regulations if they engage in business with a controversial speaker. In 2018, Vullo sent letters to New York insurance companies and banks to encourage them to cut ties with the NRA and other organizations that advocate for the Second Amendment, claiming that their affiliation with such groups would risk their reputations. The letters were sent following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The lawsuit accuses Vullo of making “backroom threats” against firms regulated by the state government, in addition to offering leniency for other infractions if the firms agreed to comply with her request. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2022 by a federal appeals court, but the Supreme Court agreed to accept the case. Various lawmakers, organizations, and scholars have filed separate amicus briefs in support of the NRA. Surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), filed an amicus brief although the group is no fan of the NRA. The ACLU said that it was “proud to defend its right to speak.” David Cole, who works as the Legal Director for the ACLU, said that allowing New York to blacklist organizations would lead to other states doing the same thing to other groups. All nine justices seemed skeptical of Vullo’s actions. The case will be decided before the end of the current term, which is in June.

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