NRA taking Supreme route to not get canceled by banks

Gun Rights

(Photo by steve woods on Unsplash)

An analysis of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court indicates the justices “appeared sympathetic” to the claim that a New York state official violated the organization’s speech rights by suggesting insurance companies and banks refuse to provide their commercial services.

A report at Scotusblog pointed out during arguments in the dispute, “justices of all ideological stripes seemed include to allow the NRA’s claim to go forward.”

The background, the analysis said, is that, “The dispute began seven years ago, when New York’s Department of Financial Services, which regulates banks and insurance companies in the state, opened an investigation into NRA-endorsed insurance programs to provide coverage for injuries caused by guns.”

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Later three companies admitted some of the NRA-endorsed programs didn’t follow state law and they agreed to drop them.

Then following the 2018 shooting at the Parkland, Florida, high school in which 17 students and staff died, the head of the state agency, Maria Vullo, told the banks and insurance companies in a “guidance” to think about what was happening to their “reputations” through doing business with groups that advocate for the Second Amendment.

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That further action prompted multiple insurance companies to cut ties to the NRA, the report said.

The NRA responded to the attack by suing Vullo on the grounds “she violated the group’s First Amendment right by threatening the companies and banks to sever their ties with the group.”

A trial court had allowed the claims to stand, but they were knocked down by the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which claimed Vullo had immunity.

The Supreme Court then took up the dispute, and NRA lawyer David Cole of the American Civil Liberties Union characterized the case as an application of the court’s 1963 decision in Bantam Books v. Sullivan.

That held that “informal, indirect government efforts to suppress or penalize speech by threatening private intermediaries violate the First Amendment.”

He charged Vullo was about using state power “to coerce a boycott of a political advocacy organization because they disagreed with its advocacy.”

Justice Samuel Alito questioned the definition of “coercion,” explaining that much rests on that specific.

“Cole also pushed back against Vullo’s contention that the case should be dismissed because the Supreme Court was not reviewing the lower court’s conclusion that Vullo was entitled to qualified immunity, so that any ruling on whether Vullo had violated the group’s First Amendment rights would not affect the lower court’s judgment,” the analysis said.

“If the court reverses the ruling by the court of appeals and holds that the NRA has stated a First Amendment claim, Cole reasoned, it should send the case back to the 2nd Circuit to reconsider its ruling on qualified immunity,” the report said.

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