The National Rifle Association (NRA) has found an unlikely ally in the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as the group pursues its First Amendment case before the Supreme Court.
“The NRA is proud to stand with the ACLU and others who recognize this important truth: regulatory power cannot be used to silence political speech,” NRA Chairman Charles Cotton said after adding the ACLU as co-counsel in the case.
“This issue is important not only to the association, but to all who publicly advocate for causes and issues they believe in,” Cotton continued.
The NRA filed its 2018 challenge after revelations that Maria T. Vuolo, the former supervisor of the New York State Department of Financial Services, acting on an order from former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, blacklisted the NRA — effectively forcing banks and insurance companies to cut ties with the NRA. the group.
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The NRA responded to the action by claiming that it violates First Amendment rights to free speech. The lawsuit alleges that Vuolo made “behind-the-scenes threats” against regulated companies, accompanied by offers of leniency for unrelated violations if the regulated entities agreed to blacklist the NRA.
The lawsuit overcame many challenges and setbacks before the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The NRA sees the ACLU’s support as a key validation of its arguments.
“Having the ACLU on board as counsel underscores the importance of this First Amendment issue and the NRA’s position that government officials cannot use intimidation tactics to silence those with whom those officials disagree,” William A. Brewer III, a partner at Brewer, NRA attorneys, consultants and legal advisors, said of the development.
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“The ACLU is a leading voice on legal and constitutional issues and is a welcome addition to this advocacy,” Brewer added.
ACLU national legal director David Cole acknowledged that the decision to aid the NRA would be controversial inside and outside the group, but said that although “it is never easy to defend those with whom you disagree… he defended The ACLU has long repelled the suggestion that we may not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say what you say.”
“In this highly polarized environment, where few people want to cross the aisle on anything, the fact that the ACLU is standing up for the NRA here only underscores the importance of the principle of free speech,” Cole wrote in a statement to the New York Times. “The touchstone.” York Times.
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The group made clear that it does not support the NRA or its mission, but it also does not support government officials who abuse their power to blacklist an organization “simply because they oppose the organization’s political views.”
A 2nd Circuit Court struck down that effort in 2022, arguing that New York’s financial regulators had a reasonable duty to warn banks and companies of “social backlash” to their association with the NRA, calling it part of “enhanced corporate social responsibility.”
The Supreme Court agreed to review the decision and review the question of whether the First Amendment permits a government regulator to threaten regulated entities with adverse regulatory action if they engage with a controversial speaker, as a result of (a) the government’s own actions? hostility to the speaker’s viewpoint or (b) “reaction.” “General” perceived against the speaker’s defense?
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The answer will affect the relationship between government regulators and private entities, which the NRA currently says “gives state officials the freedom to financially blacklist their political opponents.”
Fox News Digital’s Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report.