Supreme Court sides with National Rifle Association in free speech case against New York State official

Gun Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the New York Department of Financial Services director likely violated the free speech rights of the National Rifle Association when she pressured companies that do business with the NRA to cut their ties to the group.

In National Rifle Association of America v. Vullo, the court agreed with the NRA that Maria Vullo pressured banks and insurance companies to blacklist the NRA. In a twist, the NRA was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, a group that usually defends liberals.

Vullo called the NRA-endorsed insurance policies “murder insurance.” She denies exerting improper pressure on companies.

But Vullo sent letters to banks and insurance companies warning about the “reputational risks” of working with the NRA.

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Vullo and Gov. Mario Cuomo also issued a joint press release echoing many of the letters’ statements, and “ ‘urg[ing] all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York’ ” to join those “ ‘that have already discontinued their arrangements with the NRA.’ ”

The ruling means that the National Rifle Association lawsuit against Vullo can proceed, although the court said the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is still “free to reconsider whether Vullo is entitled to qualified immunity.” The lower court has tossed out the NRA’s lawsuit against Vullo.

The court opinion is at this link.

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