A federal judge ruled this week that city officials in Los Angeles must pay the National Rifle Association a six-figure settlement after violating the gun-rights group’s First Amendment rights.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Judge Stephen Wilson blocked an ordinance late last year that would have forced companies to disclose connections with the NRA in order to receive government contracts.
Now he has ordered city officials to pay for the Second Amendment group’s attorney fees, reportedly totaling nearly $150,000.
In December 2019, Wilson ruled that “the text of the Ordinance, the Ordinance’s legislative history, and the concurrent public statements made by the Ordinance’s primary legislative sponsor evince a strong intent to suppress the speech of the NRA.”
“Even though the Ordinance only forces disclosure of activity that may not be expressive, the clear purpose of the disclosure is to undermine the NRA’s explicitly political speech,” Wilson added.
“The City has no interest in the suppression of political advocacy — regardless of how distasteful it finds the content,” he concluded. “The Ordinance is therefore incompatible with the Constitution, and Plaintiffs are likely to be successful on the merits of their First Amendment speech claims.”
At the time, the NRA, who filed the lawsuit against the city after the ordinance’s implementation last April, celebrated the ruling as a First Amendment win.
“This is an important win for the NRA, our members, and all who believe in America’s constitutional freedoms,” the NRA’s managing director of public affairs, Andrew Arulanandam, told the Free Beacon. “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 an updated comment, NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said, “The courts have rightfully imposed those consequences upon Los Angeles. The NRA will continue our fight and, as always, work to hold politicians accountable.”
The Free Beacon noted that neither Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti nor Democratic Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell — both of whom sponsored the ordinance and were named in the lawsuit — responded when requested for comment.
The ordinance, now struck down, explicitly stated its intention was to spotlight city contractors who have done business with the NRA or donated to the organization.
“The City of Los Angeles has enacted ordinances and adopted positions that promote gun safety and sensible gun ownership,” the ordinance stated. “The City’s residents deserve to know if the City’s public funds are spent on contractors that have contractual or sponsorship ties with the NRA. Public funds provided to such contractors undermines the City’s efforts to legislate and promote gun safety.”