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NRA Scores Big Win at the Supreme Court

The National Rifle Association scored a win at the Supreme Court Thursday when justices ruled 9-0 the Second Amendment organization's First Amendment lawsuit against financial regulators in New York can move forward. The NRA sued New York after former Superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services Maria Vullo - under pressure from New York Attorney General Letitia James - pressured private financial institutions not to do business with the group with threats of government regulation. The ruling reverses a Second Circuit decision stating Vullo's actions "constituted permissible government speech and legitimate law enforcement." 

The NRA argued Vullo "violated the First Amendment by coercing DFS-regulated parties to punish or suppress the NRA’s gun-promotion advocacy." 

"Six decades ago, this Court held that a government entity’s 'threat of invoking legal sanctions and other means of coercion' against a third party 'to achieve the suppression' of disfavored speech violates the First Amendment," Justice Sonja Sotomayor wrote in the unanimous opinion. "Today, the Court reaffirms what it said then: Government officials cannot attempt to coerce private parties in order to punish or suppress views that the government disfavors. Petitioner National Rifle AssociationNRA) plausibly alleges that respondent Maria Vullo did just that. As superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, Vullo allegedly pressured regulated entities to help her stifle the NRA’s pro-gun advocacy by threatening enforcement actions against those entities that refused to disassociate from the NRA and other gun-promotion advocacy groups. Those allegations, if true, state a First Amendment claim." 

"The Court holds that the NRA plausibly alleged that Vullo violated the First Amendment by coercing DFS-regulated entities to terminate their business relationships with the NRA in order to punish or suppress the NRA’s advocacy," Sotomayor continued. "The judgment of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."


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