Misleading reports exist about several legal matters involving the NRA. This website presents key documents and facts — to set the record straight and allow the public to judge for itself.
NRA Seeks Rehearing in Connection with Ruling that Dismissed Claims Against Former NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo

October 6, 2022 – The NRA today filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seeking a rehearing en banc in connection with the court's recent decision to reverse holdings by the trial judge in the NRA’s First Amendment case against former New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Superintendent Maria Vullo. In its September 23, 2022, ruling, the three Democratic appointees to the court dismissed the claims against Vullo individually.

 

The case stems from the 2018 “blacklisting campaign” against the NRA, in which, the NRA alleges, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vullo attempted to coerce banks and other financial institutions from doing business with the NRA.

 

At the time, a host of legal experts and constitutional scholars, including the ACLU, sided with the NRA and recognized the harrowing implications of such actions. The ACLU wrote, “If Cuomo can do this to the NRA, then conservative governors could have their financial regulators threaten banks and financial institutions that do business with any other group whose political views the governor opposes. The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.”

Although the NRA’s claims against Cuomo are not encompassed by the September 2022 ruling, the decision will, the NRA believes, encourage exactly the corrupting effects scholars warned against. 

“The Second Circuit’s decision regarding the NRA’s claims against Ms. Vullo misstates the facts, and offends the First Amendment,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to NRA. “The Second Circuit’s Vullo opinion endorses a radical idea: that financial regulators can selectively punish businesses to advance ‘public policy,’ including ‘social issues’ such as gun control. This is a derogation of the First Amendment that should not prevail.”

 

In its filing today, the NRA states that the panel should not have proclaimed that a prohibition on viewpoint discrimination by government actors is "antithetical to a healthy representative democracy." The NRA argues that the "panel confuses the role of government officials as regulators with their role as speakers."

 

The filing states, "The Supreme Court has been clear that when exercising its regulatory power, 'the First Amendment forbids the government to regulate speech in ways that favor some viewpoints or ideas at the expense of others[.]'"

 

READ THE PETITION.

NRA Responds to Court Ruling, Continues With “Vigorous Defense”
NRA Responds to Court Ruling, Continues With “Vigorous Defense”

September 29, 2022 – As reported by Law 360, “A New York state judge in Manhattan said it's too soon to rule out an independent compliance monitor as a potential remedy in state Attorney General Letitia James' financial probe of the National Rifle Association, rejecting the gun organization's bid to dismiss newly added claims.”
 
Justice Joel M. Cohen of New York County Supreme Court issued his decision from the bench, keeping intact the latest version of James’ August 2020 lawsuit against the NRA. Earlier this year, in March 2022, the NRA scored a major legal victory, as the court struck the NYAG's claims to dissolve the Association. That ruling confirmed the NYAG cannot shut down the NRA or seize its assets.  
 
The NYAG’s amended complaint was filed two months after that decision. In its place, the attorney general added a new request for relief – asking that an independent compliance monitor and a governance expert be appointed to oversee the organization.
 
Importantly, Justice Cohen noted that his denial of the NRA’s motion does not mean that he would grant such relief.
 
“Whether the [monitorship] relief will be appropriate is an entirely different story,” he said.
 
“Today’s developments have no immediate impact on the Association or its defense of this lawsuit,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA. “Having dismissed the Attorney General’s dissolution claims, the NRA now sought dismissal of additional claims by Attorney General James. Of course, the Association will continue to vigorously defend itself.”
 

The NRA argues that it has demonstrated a commitment to good governance and believes that the NYAG’s case was part of a political vendetta. NYAG James famously vowed to “target the NRA” and “investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable organization” while on the campaign trail in July 2018 – before spending even one day in office and without any evidence of wrongdoing. 

 

She filed a lawsuit in August 2020 seeking to shut down the Association. In 2021, Attorney General James again touted her work to “eliminate the NRA” as a reason New Yorkers should elect her as governor.

NRA Comments on Reversal of Lower Court Ruling That Dismisses Claims Against Former NYDFS Superintendent Maria Vullo

September 23, 2022 – A panel of three Democratic appointees in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed repeated holdings by the trial judge in the NRA’s First Amendment case against former New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) Superintendent Maria Vullo – and dismissed the claims against Vullo individually.

The case stems from the 2018 “blacklisting campaign” against the NRA, in which, the NRA alleges, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vullo attempted to coerce banks and other financial institutions from doing business with the NRA. At the time, a host of legal experts and constitutional scholars, including the ACLU, sided with the NRA and recognized the harrowing implications of such actions (see report from the Wall Street Journal).

The ACLU wrote, “If Cuomo can do this to the NRA, then conservative governors could have their financial regulators threaten banks and financial institutions that do business with any other group whose political views the governor opposes. The First Amendment bars state officials from using their regulatory power to penalize groups merely because they promote disapproved ideas.”

Although the NRA’s claims against Cuomo are not encompassed by this ruling, the decision will, the NRA believes, encourage exactly the corrupting effects scholars warned against. 

“The Second Circuit’s decision regarding the NRA’s claims against Ms. Vullo misstates the facts, and offends the First Amendment,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to NRA. “The NRA is exploring its options, including certiorari to the Supreme Court, which recently reversed yet another Second Circuit decision by a panel in the Bruen case.” 
 

Brewer added that the Second Circuit’s Vullo opinion “endorses a radical idea: that financial regulators can selectively punish businesses to advance ‘public policy,’ including ‘social issues’ such as gun control.  This is a derogation of the First Amendment that should not prevail.”

READ THE OPINION.

NRA to Appeal June 2022 Decision Dismissing Counterclaims Against NYAG

June 11, 2022 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) has filed notice that it is appealing the June 2022 decision that dismissed counterclaims against New York Attorney General Letitia James for depriving the Association and its members of their fundamental rights to free speech and association.

 

The NYAG filed a dissolution lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020, following her campaign declarations in 2018 that she would investigate the NRA if she was elected. She had described the NRA as a “criminal enterprise” and “terrorist organization.” The NYAG assumed public office and, exactly as she promised her supporters, launched an investigation in April 2019, and, approximately a year later, filed a well-publicized lawsuit against the NRA – billed by her as the suit to dissolve the NRA. The NRA filed counterclaims in July 2021, and supplemented its filing in April 2022.

 

In dismissing the counterclaims on June 10, the NRA believes the Hon. Joel M. Cohen misapprehended the controlling law governing its counterclaims. In dismissing the Association’s claims, Justice Cohen adopted the NYAG’s lawsuit as true – without any discovery. Importantly, Justice Cohen seems to invert the protections of the First Amendment and fails to appreciate the extent to which the NYAG’s motivations fueled her campaign against this 150-year-old membership organization.

 

“There is an extraordinary public record that the NYAG, as a candidate, vowed to target the Association,” says William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA. “The NRA believes her actions against the Association were premediated – and impermissibly based on the content of the constitutionally protected free speech of the NRA and its members. The evidence reveals there is a direct link between the NYAG’s animus toward the NRA, her investigation, and the resulting harm it has caused. The NRA looks forward to appealing this decision.”

READ THE FILING.

 NRA Responds to Dismissal of
Counterclaims Against NYAG

June 10, 2022 – A New York court today dismissed the NRA’s counterclaims against New York Attorney General (NYAG) Letitia James. The NYAG filed a dissolution lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020.

 

In the opinion, the Hon. Joel M. Cohen recognized that the scope of the NRA’s counterclaims was narrowed as a result of his March 2022 dismissal of the NYAG’s dissolution claims. The NRA previously said that the dismissal vindicates the NRA’s position:  The NYAG’s effort to shut down the Association ran afoul of common sense, New York law, and the First Amendment.  

 

Commenting on today’s decision dismissing the counterclaims against the NYAG, NRA counsel William A. Brewer III said, “Naturally, we are disappointed in the opinion. However, we understand the court’s decision that certain counterclaims were rendered moot by the NRA’s recent victory against the NYAG – when the Court struck down her efforts to dissolve the Association. And, as the record reflects, the NRA is committed to good governance and is transparent about its efforts in that regard.”

 

Brewer continued, “Importantly, this decision does not impact the NRA’s defense of the NYAG’s lawsuit. The NRA believes the NYAG’s pursuit was fueled by her opposition to the Association and its First Amendment activities in support of the Second Amendment. There is an extraordinary public record that the NYAG, as a candidate, vowed to target the Association – chilling evidence of her motivations toward a political adversary. In fact, the NRA believes there is a direct link between the NYAG’s animus toward the NRA and the adverse action taken in the form of her investigation. The NRA will continue fighting for its members and the freedoms in which they believe.”

  

As a candidate for the NYAG office, James stated:

 

She would "[u]se the powers of the office to investigate the legitimacy of the NRA as a charitable institution. The NRA is an organ of deadly propaganda masquerading as a charity for public good." July 12, 2018, Tish James for Attorney General Press Release

 

"The NRA holds [itself] out as a charitable organization, but in fact, [it] really [is] a terrorist organization." October 31, 2018, Ebony

 

“…we need to again take on the NRA, which holds itself out as a charitable organization. But, in fact, they are not. They are nothing more than a criminal enterprise. We are waiting to take on all of the banks that finance them, their investors." September 6, 2018, Our Time Press

 

She also tweeted on August 26, 2018, “We need an Attorney General who will focus on: [and names] The @NRA." 


With respect to the NRA’s commitment to good governance, a May 2021 decision by a federal judge recognized the NRA.

 

According to the NRA, during a 12-day hearing in Dallas federal court that occurred over approximately four weeks, the NRA established that it had adopted new policies and accounting controls, displaced many “insiders” who had allegedly abused the Association, and accepted reparations for costs voluntarily determined to be excess benefits. The hearing proceedings focused on the NRA’s compliance efforts, and the organization’s renewed commitment to good governance.

 

In an opinion, dated May 11, 2021, The Honorable Harlin D. Hale wrote, “In short, the testimony…suggests that the NRA now understands the importance of compliance…the NRA can . . . continue to fulfill its mission, continue to improve its governance and internal controls, contest dissolution in the NYAG Enforcement Action, and pursue the legal steps necessary to leave New York.”

READ THE ORDER.

In the news

 Legal Facts

NRA-Logo.png