Supreme Court Gives the NRA and Freedom a Big Win Over Government Censorship and Bullying

Townhall Media/Storm Paglia

A unanimous Supreme Court found that the First Amendment exists even in New York, even when the government hates what you have to say. As unbelievable as it sounds, Justice Sonia "the Wise Latina" Sotomayor wrote the opinion stating, "The critical takeaway is that the First Amendment prohibits government officials from wielding their power selectively to punish or suppress speech, directly or (as alleged here) through private intermediaries." 



The case pitted New York's Department of Financial Services against the National Rifle Association in an attempt by that agency to use the raw coercive power of the state to punish an organization out of favor with the state. This decision reverses an Orwellian decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled so long as the state asked nicely, it could use its power to shut you down.

The story starts when Maria Vullo was nominated as New York's superintendent of financial services in 2016. She almost immediately set her sights on closing down the National Rifle Association. Her pressure point was the affinity programs the NRA sold to its members. The first victim was the NRA's "Carry Guard" insurance product. 

The “NRA Carry Guard” program offers what it calls “cutting-edge insurance protection for those who lawfully carry firearms” to defend against civil and criminal legal actions. Under the program, policyholders can get $250,000 to $1.5 million of coverage. Carry Guard also offers access to an attorney-referral network and other support services for self-defense cases.

In general, insurance policies don’t provide coverage for intended criminal acts, said Robert Hartwig, an insurance professor at the University of South Carolina. But NRA’s Carry Guard highlights “a murky area” in that there is “extreme variation across the 50 states about when someone can use deadly force” in self-defense and “what your rights are in instances where you allege self-defense.”

He said Carry Guard provides a way for innocent people “to protect themselves financially against the ruinous legal costs that would arise in a civil or criminal action.” The Carry Guard coverage terminates when an individual pleads guilty or is found guilty of a criminal charge, he said.


She also found the NRA violated a New York law that required the nonprofit to have a state insurance license before it could advertise insurance products to its members. Vullo imposed a $7 million fine on the insurance companies involved, and they shut down "Carry Guard." Blood was in the water. On February 27, 2018, Vullo met with the senior executives of Lloyd's of London, the underwriter for NRA insurance products, expressed her views in favor of gun control, and told the Lloyd’s executives “that DFS was less interested in pursuing” infractions unrelated to any NRA business “so long as Lloyd’s ceased providing insurance to gun groups, especially the NRA.” A deal was cut between Vullo and New York. In return for Lloyd's cutting back on NRA business and dropping all firearms-related insurance policies, "DFS would focus its forthcoming affinity-insurance enforcement action solely on those syndicates which served the NRA.” If you are someone subject to the rule of law, that is called "extortion."

On April 19, 2018, Vullo issued two "That's a nice business you got there, it would be a shame if anything happened to it" letters. One went to all insurance companies regulated by New York, and the other went to all banks in New York.



This was followed up by a letter by former Governor and sex pest Andrew Cuomo titled: Governor Cuomo Directs Department of Financial Services to Urge Companies to Weigh Reputational Risk of Business Ties to the NRA and Similar Organizations.

"New York may have the strongest gun laws in the country, but we must push further to ensure that gun safety is a top priority for every individual, company, and organization that does business across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "I am directing the Department of Financial Services to urge insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any relationship they may have with the NRA or similar organizations sends the wrong message to their clients and their communities who often look to them for guidance and support. This is not just a matter of reputation, it is a matter of public safety, and working together, we can put an end to gun violence in New York once and for all."

The NRA sued, and a legal scrum ensued. A district court judge dismissed most of the allegations against Vullo but held "that the NRA plausibly alleged those [First Amendment] claims and that issues of fact existed as to whether she was protected by qualified immunity with respect to those claims."

Vullo appealed to the Second Circuit, and a panel composed of Judges Rosemary Pooler (Clinton), Denny Chin (Obama), and Susan Carney (Obama) heard the case. They incredibly found


Moreover, even assuming that Vullo's actions and statements were somehow coercive, we conclude further that her conduct here --taking actions and making statements in her various capacities as regulator, enforcement official, policymaker, and representative of New York State --did not violate clearly established law. Rather, the only plausible conclusion to be drawn is that Vullo acted reasonably and in good faith in endeavoring to meet the duties and responsibilities of her office.

The NRA appealed because if the Second Circuit's ruling prevailed, the First Amendment basically ceased to exist. Even the ACLU recognized the danger and represented the NRA.


ACLU Breaks Its Silence on Defending the Second Amendment, Agrees to Represent the NRA at SCOTUS – RedState

Supreme Court Hears NRA Case Against Former NYC Official Who Pressured Companies to Cut Ties With Group – RedState

Monday Morning Minute – RedState

This decision is a clear victory for the First Amendment and for the NRA. The case is headed back for trial in district court, and given this decision and Sotomayor's reasoning (yes, it's scary to write that), it will be difficult for Vullo to evade what happens next. The only rathole available to her is a claim of "qualified immunity." Sotomayor told the Second Circuit to determine if Vullo was eligible, but the original district court ruling and a footnote in Sotomayor's opinion cast a lot of doubt on that claim.


The fact that this decision was 9-0 in favor of freedom gives us a lot of hope as we await the decision in Murthy vs. Missouri next month. Biden functionaries are accused of using the threat of regulatory action against social media platforms to ensure that full and complete information about COVID and other issues could not be shared.


One Politically Viable Solution for Murthy vs. Missouri - Full Transparency – RedState

Justice Jackson Upset That the First Amendment Might Stop the Government From Suppressing Free Speech – RedState

SCOTUS Set to Hear Free Speech Case on Biden Admin Colluding With Big Tech to Stifle 'Misinformation'

Free Speech Wins: 5th Circuit Upholds Heart of Injunction Against Biden Administration 

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