Supreme Court Sets the Tone in Recent NRA Ruling (9-0) | Joe Hoft

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Supreme Court Sets the Tone in Recent NRA Ruling (9-0)

NRA Wins Supreme Court Unanimous 9-0 First Amendment Suit

The following was published at Mountain Top Times on Substack – This case may be more important than it first appears.

The National Rifle Association in NRA v. Vullo won a Supreme Court unanimous 9-0 victory that the NRA has a First Amendment right to sue the State of New York for allegedly coercing banks and insurance companies to not do business with the NRA.

The Virgina based NRA, sued after New York Department of Financial Services Administrator Maria Vullo, following the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. shooting that left 17 students and faculty dead, used her state authority to open official state investigations into NRA-endorsed insurance programs that provided liability coverage for gun injuries.

Three insurance companies that partnered with the NRA in 2017, eventually agreed to  Vullo’s demands that they admit NRA-endorsed programs violated New York law.  The private companies also agreed to pay up to $7 million in fines and refrain from providing those NRA sponsored programs to state residents.

The Department of Financial Services’ successful attack kicked off a lawfare onslaught by New York officials against the NRA.  New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the NRA, its Executive Director LaPierre and the other current and former senior officers in August 2020.  In January 2021, New York Judge Joel Cohen ruled in Attorney General James’ favor numerous times by denying motions to dismiss the case and change the court venue.

The NRA in January 2021 filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to reorganize in gun friendly Texas.  But federal bankruptcy judge rejected the move as “not filed in good faith.”

Attorney General Letitia James announced on February 23, 2024, that a jury had ruled in the State of New York’s favor, finding the NRA and its executives were liable for $4 million for financial misconduct and corruption in the management of the organization.

The NRA during the litigation discovered that following the 2018 Florida shooting, Ms. Vullo had issued an official press statements and “guidance” letters in which she called on all insurance companies and banks doing business in New York to consider the risks to their reputations from doing business with groups that promote guns, like the NRA.

The NRA sued Ms. Vullo and New York in federal court for crossing the line from using personal persuasion, to using state resources and official communications to coerce the insurance companies and the banks to cut ties with the NRA.

The federal First Amendment rights case wound through District Court and Court of Appeals, before being argued on Mar 18, 2024 at the Supreme Court.  The case generated a tremendous amount of Amicus briefs from top conservative, liberal and not-for-profit interest groups.

The Supreme Court arguments and Justices’ questions appeared to slightly favor the NRA.  But no one predicted the four liberal Justices would vote as a block for the NRA, and that senior liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor would write a precedential opinion that can now be used as a club by conservative organizations nationwide to seek potentially huge financial judgement if they were coerced by state government officials.

The Supreme Court did indicate that when the case is returned to the court of appeals, the lower court could consider whether Ms. Vullo is entitled to qualified immunity – which could prove to be a high bar for the NRA to surmount.

But it also appears that the Supreme Court may have been expressing its dismay over the lawfare attacks against Trump as the leading candidate for president on the eve of a New York City jury convicting Trump on 34 Class E felony counts that could each subject Trump to consecutive four-year prison sentences, for a term of 136 years.

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