May 31, 2024

NRA Prevails in Free Speech Case … for Now

A unanimous Supreme Court smacked down a NY bureaucrat for trampling the First Amendment.

Just as Democrats were working furiously to discredit the Supreme Court through the ridiculously silly flap over Justice Samuel Alito’s flag, the Court unanimously ruled in favor of the First and Second Amendments, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing the opinion. It’s hard to dismiss a majority of 9-0 as political.

Coming on the heels of Wile E. Coyote finally catching the Roadrunner, Thursday was a bad day for Democrats, even if they’ll gleefully pretend otherwise in Donald Trump’s case.

The Supreme Court case at hand was NRA v. Vullo, which dealt with the state of New York — a two-dimensional villain of a state these days — targeting the National Rifle Association, squelching the Second Amendment organization’s First Amendment rights through a process some call debanking. Specifically, former NY Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services Maria Vullo coerced financial institutions to refuse business dealings with the NRA.

It was so obviously a violation of the First Amendment that the American Civil Liberties Union stopped assailing civil liberties long enough to take on the case and represent the NRA.

Sotomayor pointed to the 1963 Bantam Books ruling, saying its precedent “stands for the principle that a government official cannot directly or indirectly coerce a private party to punish or suppress disfavored speech on her behalf.” Given that Vullo “had direct regulatory and enforcement authority over all insurance companies and financial service institutions doing business in New York,” Sotomayor reasoned, her actions “could be reasonably understood to convey a threat of adverse government action in order to punish or suppress speech.”

It wasn’t theoretical, either. Insurance companies canceled contracts with the NRA, and banks wouldn’t even provide basic depository services, producing tangible harm to the organization.

“While a government official can share her views freely and criticize particular beliefs in the hopes of persuading others, she may not use the power of her office to punish or suppress disfavored expression,” Sotomayor said. “Nor does her argument that her actions targeted ‘nonexpressive’ business relationships change the fact that the NRA alleges her actions were aimed at punishing or suppressing speech.” She added, “Although Vullo can pursue violations of state insurance law, she cannot do so in order to punish or suppress the NRA’s protected expression.”

The Supreme Court thus sent the lawsuit back to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which had previously thrown it out.

In essence, what Vullo did was part of the Democrat strategy to destroy what they euphemistically call “democracy.” Our Republic stands on the Rule of Law and equal treatment under fair laws. Democrats hate that, of course, and undermine it at every turn.

Hillary Clinton didn’t like Donald Trump, so she paid her law firm to pay some “investigators” to pay a spy to concoct a dossier about Trump being a Russian agent. You might say it was a bookkeeping crime to influence an election. Subsequently losing the election in part for having committed other crimes, Hillary turned it over to her fellow Democrats to weaponize the law against Trump through the FBI and then George Soros-funded hacks like Alvin Bragg.

Is it any wonder that a power-tripping state official like Maria Vullo would essentially take the same tack against the NRA? Especially given that New York Attorney General Letitia James won office on a promise to stick it to Trump and the NRA. James promised to “dissolve the [NRA] in its entirety.” Vullo was just part of the plan.

Fortunately for the Rule of Law, this plan was rebuked for the tyrannical farce that it is. Unfortunately for everyone, Vullo began her work in 2017, and the NRA first filed its complaint in 2018, meaning Democrats got away with it for seven years before the situation was rectified, though even now, the NRA can only continue its litigation.

Looking forward, this decision could be a good sign for an arguably even more important case — Murthy v. Missouri. That case was argued before the Supreme Court on the same day, and it dealt with the Biden administration’s pressure campaign against social media giants to suppress free speech about COVID.

Follow Nate Jackson on X/Twitter.

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