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FOR THE RECORD

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Law360 Reports on New York Trial Proceedings

February 7, 2024 – Law360 and other major media outlets are closely following trial proceedings in the People of the State of New York  v. National Rifle Association of America case in New York.

 

In a news article dated February 7, 2024, Law 360 summarized testimony from key NRA officials and expert witnesses - reporting on the Association's governance. 

 

The article noted that an outside auditor for the NRA, Greg Plotts of accounting firm Aprio LLP, told jurors that the NRA is “very transparent” and took steps to address compliance deficiencies after the New York Attorney General’s investigation began. Plotts added that the NRA “welcomed” additional audit tests after the lawsuit was filed.

 

"They said, 'You will have full access, and we want you to go in and make sure these things [alleged in the lawsuit] are not happening,'" Plotts told the jury. "They wanted open access for our eyes."

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Fox News Reports on “Outpouring of Support” for NRA in SCOTUS Case

January 18, 2024 – Fox News reports that dozens of political leaders, lawmakers, scholars and other organizations have filed or joined amicus briefs at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the National Rifle Association's (NRA) First Amendment lawsuit against former New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Maria Vullo.

 

The NRA is represented in the case by Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh. 

 

In a May 2018 lawsuit, the NRA alleged that Vullo conspired to use DFS' regulatory power to “financially blacklist” the NRA – coercing banks and insurers to cut ties with the Association to suppress its pro-Second Amendment speech.

 

"This support from organizations and scholars across the political divide validates the NRA’s position: New York government officials violated the First Amendment when they weaponized the powers of their office to silence a perceived political enemy. As evidenced in the chorus of voices that emerged, this case is important to not only the NRA but to all who engage in public advocacy," NRA counsel William A. Brewer III told Fox News.

 

Fox reports that 190 individuals and organizations filed 22 amicus briefs in support of the NRA’s legal battle.

To read the Fox News report, click here.

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Law360 Reports on Amicus Brief Filed by the Federal Government in NRA's First Amendment Case Before the Supreme Court

January 17, 2024 – Law360 reports that the federal government filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in connection with the National Rifle Association's (NRA) lawsuit against a former New York state regulator.

The report states that, in the brief, the "federal government said the NRA's allegations concerning the February 2018 meetings that former New York Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo had with Lloyd's of London provide a 'straightforward basis' for rejecting the Second Circuit's finding that no coercion occurred." 

To read the Law360 report, click here.

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The Washington Times: Dozens of GOP Lawmakers Back NRA in Free Speech Challenge at Supreme Court

January 15, 2024 – Eighteen members of the United States Senate and 63 members of the United States House of Representatives today submitted a joint amicus brief in support of the National Rifle Association of America's (NRA) federal lawsuit against Maria Vullo, the former superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS). The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in March or April.

 

In a May 2018 lawsuit, the NRA alleged that Vullo, at the behest of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, took aim at the NRA and conspired to use DFS' regulatory power to “financially blacklist” the NRA – coercing banks and insurers to cut ties with the Association to suppress its pro-Second Amendment speech.

“This campaign singled out the NRA’s financial relationships on account of the organization’s First Amendment-protected advocacy for gun rights, speech Vullo maligned as ‘promot[ing] guns that lead to senseless violence,’” the brief reads.

To read the Washington Times report, click here. 

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NRA Files Opening Brief with the U.S. Supreme Court 

January 9, 2024 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) today filed its opening brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, outlining the legal arguments in its First Amendment case, National Rifle Association of America v. Maria T. Vullo. The case, which is one of the most closely watched First Amendment lawsuits in the nation, was granted certiorari by the Supreme Court in November 2023. 

In its brief, the NRA writes that government officials "may of course express their opinions without violating the First Amendment. If Vullo had written an op-ed criticizing the NRA, she would not have violated the First Amendment. Likewise, had Vullo merely informed regulated entities about the legal requirements pertaining to affinity insurance programs, she would not have violated the First Amendment."

The brief continues, "But Vullo did nothing of the sort. Instead, motivated by her avowed antipathy toward the NRA’s political views, she invoked her unparalleled authority over the trillion-dollar New York financial services industry to coerce banks and insurance companies to blacklist the NRA, offering a blend of threats and inducements expressly designed to penalize the NRA for its political advocacy. That course of conduct violated the First Amendment." READ MORE.

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Trial Proceedings Set to Begin

January 8, 2024 – Trial proceedings are expected to begin on January 8, 2024, in the lawsuit by the New York Attorney General against the NRA; EVP Wayne LaPierre; General Counsel and Secretary John Frazer; former CFO Wilson Phillips; and former Chief of Staff Joshua Powell. The NYAG alleges the NRA failed to monitor charitable assets, such alleged misconduct is persistent and ongoing, and seeks the appointment of a monitor.

 

The NRA argues otherwise. As noted in the NRA’s trial brief, dated January 6, 2024, the NRA claims the NYAG cannot prove self-dealing or bad faith by the board. “…the key allegations in the NYAG’s complaint, that the NRA is engaged in ‘persistent’ and ‘ongoing’ governance failures because of the conduct of the individual defendants” do not apply. “…the NRA has robust rules and regulations applicable to its officers forbidding the misconduct that the NYAG alleges.”


“The NRA is prepared to defend the record of the board as it navigated through a changing regulatory landscape. It embraced the opportunity to instill total compliance with the NRA’s governance standards,” says NRA counsel William A. Brewer III. “In the last five years, the NRA Board of Directors has recommended the termination of ‘insiders’ and vendors who it believes abused the Association, and accepted reimbursement, with interest, for alleged excess benefit transactions from Mr. LaPierre, as reported in public tax filings. The NRA goes into trial positioned for success.”

 

See NRA Trial Brief.

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NRA Adds ACLU As Co-Counsel, Bolstering Legal Team on First Amendment Case

December 9, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) announced today the addition of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as co-counsel with Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors in its First Amendment case, National Rifle Association of America v. Maria T. Vullo. The case, which is one of the most closely watched First Amendment lawsuits in the nation, was recently granted certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. Eugene Volokh remains as counsel. 

 

“The NRA is proud to stand with the ACLU and others who recognize this important truth: regulatory authority cannot be used to silence political speech,” says NRA President Charles Cotton. “This case is important not only to the Association, but all who openly advocate for the causes and issues in which they believe.”

READ MORE.

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Supreme Court Accepts NRA First Amendment Case – A “Historic Step Forward” for the NRA and Free Speech

November 3, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) commented today on the United States Supreme Court accepting National Rifle Association of America v. Maria T. Vullo for review. The decision is a landmark development in one of the most closely watched First Amendment cases in the nation.

“This is a historic step forward for free speech, the NRA’s millions of members, and for all who believe in freedom,” says NRA CEO & EVP Wayne LaPierre. “The NRA’s fight for justice continues – this time in the highest court in the land. At a time when free speech is under attack as never before, it is important that government officials be sent a message that they cannot use intimidation tactics to silence those with whom they disagree.”

READ MORE.

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NRA to Move for Expedited Relief for Its Members in Light of Fifth Circuit Pistol Brace Ruling

August 2, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”) announced today that it would be expediting its motion for a preliminary injunction to protect its members from the Biden Administration’s unlawful attempt to reclassify braced pistols as “rifles” subject to onerous registration requirements.

The announcement comes a day after the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Mock v. Garland, which finds the controversial “pistol brace rule” recently issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) is probably unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).

READ MORE.

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NRA Files Suit Against ATF and DOJ Over “Pistol Brace Rule,” Defends Members Against Draconian Measure

July 3, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”) today announced it filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (“Defendants”) in opposition to the unlawful “pistol brace rule.”

 

“The NRA has ramped up its offense on this arbitrary and unconstitutional rule,” says NRA Executive Vice President & CEO Wayne LaPierre. “We are confident in our ability to confront the ATF and DOJ – and preserve freedom for NRA members.”

READ MORE.

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NRA Files Suit Against ATF and DOJ Over "Pistol Brace Rule," Defends Members Against Draconian Measure

June 6, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (“NRA”) today announced it is intervening in a pending case to protect its members from the “pistol brace rule” promulgated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”).

The NRA seeks to intervene in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, to obtain injunctive relief stopping the ATF from enforcing its unconstitutional rule – which reverses its long-standing position that pistol braces do not transform pistols into rifles subject to onerous registration and taxation requirements under the National Firearms Act. Defendants include, among others, the ATF, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Steven M. Dettelbach, in his official capacity as director of ATF (“Defendants”).

READ MORE.

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Texas and Indiana Attorneys General, Goldwater Institute, Others File Amicus Briefs in Support of NRA

May 24, 2023 – Four more amicus briefs have been filed in support of the NRA’s cert petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The NRA seeks the court’s review of a Second Circuit decision that dismissed its claims against Maria Vullo, the former head of the New York State Department of Financial Services, for her role in a “blacklisting campaign” against the Association.
 
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Indiana Attorney General Todd E. Rokita; the Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation at the Barry M. Goldwater Institute; the Competitive Enterprise Institute; and a consortium of 16 organizations, including Gun Owners of America and Citizens United, are the latest to submit briefs. Financial and business law scholars Brian Knight of George Mason University and George Mocsary of the University of Wyoming College of Law; the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE); and 18 State Attorneys General previously submitted amicus briefs.

READ MORE.

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FIRE Files Amicus Brief in Support of NRA Cert Petition to U.S. Supreme Court

April 5, 2023 – The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) today filed an amicus brief in support of the NRA’s certiorari petition to the Supreme Court. FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
dedicated to defending the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought.

The brief states: “Given its decades of experience defending freedom of expression, FIRE is keenly aware that public officials too often misuse their power through threats and other informal mechanisms of coercion to stifle controversial speakers and impose ideological conformity. FIRE submits this brief to urge this Court to reverse the alarming decision of the Second Circuit, which held that petitioner had failed to state a viable claim despite detailed allegations that a powerful New York state official threatened action against regulated entities that associated with petitioner because she opposed  petitioner’s political advocacy.”

Read the amicus brief here

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18 State Attorneys General File Brief
in Support of NRA

April 5, 2023 – Eighteen Republican Attorneys General today filed an amicus brief in support of the NRA’s certiorari petition to the Supreme Court. On February 7, 2023, the NRA petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a much criticized opinion issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in NRA v. Maria Vullo.

 

A copy of their amicus brief is available here. The brief is important validation of the NRA’s position and its advocacy.

 

READ MORE

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Financial and Business Law Scholars Back NRA in Cert Petition to U.S. Supreme Court,
File Amicus Brief Seeking Review of “Blacklisting Campaign” Case

March 21, 2023 – Financial and business law scholars, Brian Knight of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and George Mocsary of the University of Wyoming College of Law, filed an amicus brief today in support of the NRA’s certiorari petition to the Supreme Court. On  February 7, 2023, the NRA petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a controversial judgment issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in NRA v. Maria Vullo.

READ MORE.

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NRA Appeals June 2022 Decision Dismissing Counterclaims Against NYAG

March 14, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) has appealed the New York Supreme Court’s June 10, 2022, decision dismissing its First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

READ MORE.

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NRA Files Cert Petition with U.S. Supreme Court; Seeks Review of Case Against Former
New York Governmental Official Tied to “Blacklisting Campaign”

February 7, 2023 – The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) today filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking review of a controversial judgment issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in NRA v. Maria T. Vullo. The matter in question is one of the nation’s most high-profile First Amendment cases. First Amendment scholar Eugene Volokh joins as counsel on the brief.
 
As the former Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), Vullo, at the behest of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, allegedly wielded DFS's regulatory power to financially blacklist the NRA – coercing banks and insurers to cut ties with the Association, in order to suppress its Second Amendment speech. The lawsuit's allegations are explosive and include backroom threats by Vullo against regulated firms, accompanied by offers of leniency on unrelated infractions if regulated entities agreed to blacklist the NRA. 

READ MORE.

Editorial in Wall Street Journal Supports NRA’s First Amendment Case

December 27, 2022 –  An editorial in the Wall Street Journal, “The NRA vs. the Censorship 'Mob,'” explores the NRA’s First Amendment case against former New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) Superintendent Maria Vullo. The commentary was authored by attorneys David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew M. Grossman. Rivkin served at the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, while Grossman is a senior legal fellow at the Buckeye Institute.
 

The NRA twice prevailed against motions to dismiss its First Amendment case against former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Vullo. However, the Second Circuit recently reversed those holdings as they related to Vullo.

READ MORE.

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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.

READ MORE.

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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.

READ MORE.

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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.  

 

READ MORE.
 

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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.

READ MORE.

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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.

“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 MORE.


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.”

READ MORE.

NRA Fights Back Against NYAG's Move to
Appoint an "Independent" Monitor

June 6, 2022 – The NRA today filed a motion to dismiss the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) claim that an "independent" compliance monitor should be appointed to oversee the administration of the NRA. In its filing, the NRA states that the unprecedented request would "burden the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its millions of members."

On March 2, 2022, a New York court struck down attempts by NYAG James to dissolve the NRA – delivering a big win for the NRA. As Business Insider reports, since that loss, the NYAG "has amended her complaint but added no new factual allegations," the NRA filing states.

"Rather, she asserts a new cause of action which seeks the intrusive, unnecessary and unprecedented appointment of an 'independent' compliance monitor to oversee the administration of the NRA, answerable to the NYAG's own office as well as the Court," the filing continues.

"There is no colorable practical need, and no legal basis, for the NYAG to contrive a de facto takeover of the NRA to replace her defunct dissolution claims," it says.

"Rather, the parties should proceed with discovery and trial on the NYAG's previously existing claims, and the new one should be dismissed."

READ THE FILING.

NRA Alleges NYAG's Office "Coordinated and Conspired" with Everytown for Gun Safety

April 12, 2022 – The NRA today filed its amended response to the remaining claims in the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) Verified Amended and Supplemental Complaint against the Association. In its response, the NRA alleges that the NYAG's office "coordinated and conspired with Everytown for Gun Safety, an entity which was founded to serve as a 'counterweight' to the NRA." 

 

The NYAG filed a dissolution lawsuit against the NRA in August 2020. On March 2, 2022, a New York court struck down attempts by NYAG James to dissolve the NRA – delivering a big win for the NRA. The NRA is now defending against the surviving claims in the lawsuit.

 

The filing notes that, in February 2019, prior to launching her investigation into the NRA, senior representatives of NYAG Letitia James' office met with representatives of Everytown for Gun Safety about the NRA. 

 

The complaint states, "A representative of OAG testified under oath that the purpose of the meeting between the representatives of James’s office and Everytown was for Everytown to advise the NYAG of a complaint about the NRA's 2017 IRS Form 990 filing."

 

However, the NRA states that "[be]cause Everytown was founded and exists solely to further Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun agenda, Everytown is not a credible source of information about the NRA."


Two months after the meeting, NYAG James authorized an investigation of the NRA. The filing states, "James commenced a sweeping, costly, invasive, and concertedly publicized investigation of the NRA concerning types of purported misconduct that have never incited the same hostility for similarly situated, comparator charities." 

 

After the NRA sought records related to the meeting between the NYAG's office and Everytown, both entities moved for a protective order, claiming in part that discovery was stayed and that compliance with the request for documents would be unduly burdensome for Everytown, the filing states. 

 

The NRA further notes that "a representative of the NYAG in sum and substance refused to deny at a deposition that if the NYAG succeeded on her now-dismissed claims to dissolve the NRA, she planned to distribute some or all of the NRA’s assets to Everytown."

 

READ THE FILING.

NRA Files Answer to NYAG
Complaint and Counterclaims

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March 23, 2022 – The NRA today filed its verified answer to the New York Attorney General’s (NYAG) amended and supplemental complaint and counterclaims. The filing responds to the dissolution lawsuit filed by NYAG Letitia James, originally filed on August 6, 2020, and asserts several counterclaims against the NYAG for Violation of the NRA’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and Selective Enforcement of N.Y. Not-for-Profit Corporation law, among other claims.

 

According to the filing, “As a candidate for the New York State Office of the Attorney General, James promised [in 2018] that, if elected, she would ‘take down the NRA’ by wielding the enforcement powers she hoped to ​possess if she were elected as NYAG.” The filing explains that, upon being elected, James commenced her investigation into the NRA and later filed a lawsuit that seeks to shut it down. Her actions have drawn criticism from many legal experts and constitutional scholars, including the ACLU.


The filing states, “James’s threatened, and actual, regulatory and civil reprisals are a blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the NRA and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech. Such conduct violates clearly established statutory and constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

 

READ THE FILING.

NRA Prevails Over NYAG:  
Court Rules Association Cannot be Dissolved

March 2, 2022 – The NRA scored a major legal victory today, as a New York court struck down attempts by the New York Attorney General to dissolve the 150-year-old organization. Following a two-hour hearing on December 10, 2021, the Hon. Joel M. Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court issued an opinion today that 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.  

 

“This is a resounding win for the NRA, its 5 million members, and all who believe in this organization,” says NRA President Charles Cotton. “The message is loud and clear:  the NRA is strong and secure in its mission to protect constitutional freedom.”

READ MORE.

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Law360 Reports on NRA Motion to Disqualify Dorsey & Whitney 

February 23, 2022 – Law360 reports that the NRA filed a motion requesting that Dorsey & Whitney LLP, the law firm representing the NRA's former ad agency, Ackerman McQueen, be disqualified because of the firm's connection to a "side-switching" lawyer who previously worked for the NRA. 

 

According to the report, "The NRA claimed in a motion Monday that a privilege log recently revealed that Dorsey & Whitney LLP worked briefly with Virginia lawyer Mark Dycio, who had advised the association on matters relevant to the case."

READ MORE.

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