NRA V. WINSTON & STRAWN
ABOUT THE NRA'S CASE
Now, more than ever, the NRA is committed to defending not only the Second Amendment, but also the First Amendment freedoms that are fundamental to its advocacy.
To that end, on September 9, 2019, the NRA filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco, California, and members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The lawsuit alleged violations of the NRA’s First Amendment rights, along with other related constitutional claims.
The lawsuit confronted a resolution enacted unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on September 3, 2019, which declared the NRA a “terrorist organization” and, on that pretext, called for the County and City government to identify, and blacklist, vendors or contractors who maintain relationships with the NRA.
If you think that sounds unconstitutional, you’re not alone. Legal experts and constitutional scholars swiftly condemned San Francisco. Calling the resolution “insulting and unconstitutional,” Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen observed, “[The] NRA supports an expansive view of gun rights, but that is not a terrorist act – unless political disagreement is now a criminal offense…We cannot have a free republic if one large set of citizens views another large set as evil and beyond pale.”
Rather than await “instruction” from a court, on September 23, 2019, San Francisco Mayor London Breed backed down. In a formal memorandum to City officials, she declared that “no [municipal] department will take steps to restrict any contractor from doing business with the NRA or to restrict City contracting opportunities for any business that has any relationship with the NRA.”
“Through these actions and our public advocacy, we hope the message is now clear,” said NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “The NRA will always fight to protect our members and the constitutional freedoms in which they believe.”
William A. Brewer III, partner at Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors and counsel for the NRA said, “The memo serves as a clear concession and a well-deserved win for the First and Second Amendments of the United States Constitution. It is unfortunate that in today’s polarized times, some elected officials would rather silence opposing arguments than engage in good-faith debate. The NRA is America’s oldest civil rights organization – and won’t stand for that.”
On November 7, 2019, the NRA filed a Notice of Dismissal of its lawsuit against the City of San Francisco.
"Today the NRA withdrew its lawsuit in San Francisco — and now celebrates the important victory it obtained on behalf of its members,” said Brewer. “As has been widely reported, after the Association challenged the unconstitutional resolution, the City beat a hasty retreat and backed down from its wildly illegal blacklisting scheme.”
Brewer added, “The censors are on notice. The NRA will always fight for the Constitution, and will re-file if the City tries anything like this in the future."