Federal Judge: NRA Suit Against New York Can Proceed on First Amendment Grounds

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at his Midtown Manhattan office, September 14, 2018 in New York City. Cuomo discussed his primary night election victory as well as a range of other topics. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty

U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy ruled Tuesday that the NRA’s suit against New York can continue on First Amendment grounds.

The New York Law Journal reports McAvoy issued his ruling after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo sought to have the NRA’s suit dismissed.

On May 3, Breitbart News reported that New York declared NRA’s Carry Guard insurance program “illegal” and barred it from being marketed in the state. The state also canceled policies of New Yorkers who had already acquired Carry Guard.

On May 11, 2018, Breitbart News reported that the NRA filed a suit against Cuomo, Vullo, and New York’s Department of Financial Services, claiming the cancellation of Carry Guard policies was part of a larger “blacklisting campaign” against the civil rights organization. The NRA claimed Cuomo and the financial regulator actually acted to prevent NRA from “[speaking] freely about gun-related issues and defend the Second Amendment.”

In the text of the suit the NRA claimed:

Together with DFS Superintendent Vullo, his longtime lieutenant, Cuomo has embarked on a campaign to chill the political speech of the NRA and other so-called “gun promotion” organizations by leveraging state power to punishing financial institutions which maintain “business arrangements with the NRA.” To achieve this, Defendants draw upon the formidable regulatory powers of DFS—an agency charged with ensuring the stability and integrity of New York’s financial markets.

At Cuomo’s behest, Vullo and DFS have threatened, and continue to threaten, regulated institutions with costly investigations and penalties should they fail to “discontinue[] . . . their arrangements with the NRA.” And Defendants have already carried out some of these threats. Within a single week, DFS levied multi-million dollar fines against two insurance-industry firms that dared to do business with the NRA. Under intense scrutiny, both firms were coerced to terminate their business arrangements with the NRA and its members—including arrangements having nothing to do with the allegedly unlawful conduct cited by DFS. A DFS press release publicizing one recent enforcement action makes clear the gravamen of Defendants’ campaign: financial institutions regulated by DFS must refrain from “[e]ntering into any . . . agreement or arrangement,” which “involv[es] the NRA, directly or indirectly”—or face the consequences.

The case is NRA v. Cuomo, No. 18-CV-0566 in the Northern District of New York.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.



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