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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of the NRA on Free Speech

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The United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.
The United States Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.

On May 30, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in favor of the National Rifle Association (NRA), an important gun-rights advocacy group, in a First Amendment case.

In a case called NRA v. Vullo, Justice Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the Court writing, “Government officials cannot attempt to coerce private parties in order to punish or suppress views that the government disfavors,” adding, “Ultimately, the critical takeaway is that the First Amendment prohibits government officials from wielding their power selectively to punish or suppress speech.”

The lawsuit centers on the NRA’s claim that Maria Vullo, the former superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, pressured insurance companies to stop doing business with the NRA after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They also allege she threatened to take action against firms that didn’t comply, violating the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its millions of members.

The NRA quickly filed suit in May of that same year, and a federal appeals court initially ruled against the NRA. They then appealed the decision. Rather ironically, the American Civil Liberties Union, which tends to be left-leaning, helped represent the NRA before the court. “While the ACLU stands in stark opposition to the NRA on many issues, it represented the group to safeguard the First Amendment rights of all advocacy organizations,” said the ACLU in a press release.

The case has been remanded to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, where the lower court could consider whether Vullo is entitled to qualified immunity.

“This victory is a win for the NRA in the fight to protect freedom,” says NRA President Bob Barr, in a statement on their website. “This is a historic moment for the NRA in its stand against governmental overreach. Let this be clear: the voice of the NRA membership is as loud and influential as ever. Regulators are now on notice: this is a win for not only the NRA, but every organization who might otherwise suffer from an abuse of government power.”

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