FOR THE RECORD
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.”