NY & DC AGs v. NRA
NRA Claims NY Seeks to 'Crush' Gun Rights Group in Battle with AG's Office
New York Law Journal, March 17, 2023
The New York Law Journal reports that the NRA has appealed the New York Supreme Court's June 2022 order that dismissed the NRA's First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims – without discovery – against New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The front-page article chronicles the NRA’s 58-page appellate brief, including the NRA’s claim that the lower court decision dismissing the counterclaims “practically draws a roadmap for how officials can abuse state power to destroy the ability for non-profits to advocate for positions disfavored by the government.”
According to the article, “Under the lower court’s decision, so long as the targeted entity has committed any technical infraction whatsoever, it would have no redress for the blatant violation of its First Amendment rights,” the brief from Brewer, Attorneys & Counselors partner William A. Brewer III states. READ MORE
NRA Digs in for Legal Fight Against Woke Prosecutor over Alleged 'Roadmap' of Abuse
Fox News, March 15, 2023
Fox News reports that the NRA is "hitting back against Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James' years-long battle and self-described campaign to 'take on the NRA' over alleged corruption."
The report notes that the NRA recently filed an appeal of the New York Supreme Court's June 2022 order that dismissed the NRA's First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause counterclaims – without discovery – against James. According to the report, the NRA is arguing that James weaponized the powers of her office "to silence" the Second Amendment group.
"The NRA believes the motivation for her ensuing campaign against the Association is clear: she desired to silence the organization and its Second Amendment advocacy," NRA counsel William Brewer III told Fox News Digital. READ MORE
NRA Pushes Back Against NY Attorney General's Demand that an Independent Monitor Babysit Its Operations
BusinessInsider, March 8, 2022
Business Insider reports that the NRA is "fighting back against New York Attorney General Letitia James' demand for an independent monitor who would oversee the gun group's operations, calling the idea 'intrusive, unnecessary and unprecedented.'"
In a new court filing, the NRA says James is overstepping her statutory powers and that
such a monitor — along with an "independent governance expert" to advise on needed "reforms," as James is also requesting — "would burden the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its millions of members."
"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 MORE
Editorial: NRA Win is Good for All Pro-Second Amendment Groups
AmmoLand, March 8, 2022
AmmoLand publishes an editorial that states that the "big loss Letitia James had this week is a decisive win for every pro-Second Amendment group in the United States, and Second Amendment supporters have the NRA to thank for their continued existence."
The editorial argues that, if the New York Attorney General had been able to dissolve the NRA, "anti-Second Amendment attorneys general would have had a blueprint to wipe out just about any pro-Second Amendment organization."
"What the Cuomo-James regime was trying to do was to degrade the ability of Second Amendment supporters to make their case to the American people, with an eye towards the eventual destruction of said ability," the editorial states. "After destroying the ability of Second Amendment supporters to make their case to the American people, what do you think would have happened to the Second Amendment? I’d suggest a look at Australia or the United Kingdom for likely end states." READ MORE
Editorial: New York State Attorney General Suffers Setback in Effort to Dissolve NRA
The New American, March 4, 2022
The New American publishes an editorial stating that "New York State Attorney General Letitia James, who called the National Rifle Association (NRA) a 'terrorist organization' with a 'poisonous agenda' during her election campaign in 2018, was rebuffed in her attempt to have the group dissolved altogether."
The editorial states, in a legal opinion, Justice Joel M. Cohen "accused James of massive overreach in her attempt to close down the NRA altogether over the alleged, and as-yet unproven, misbehavior on the part of the group's top officials." READ MORE
Editorial: A Much-Needed Victory for the NRA
New York Sun, March 4, 2022
The New York Sun's editorial board writes that the decision by a New York State judge to enjoin the New York Attorney General from dissolving the NRA is a welcomed move, as it "calls out the abuse of power that has marked New York's campaign against the NRA not only by Ms. James, but also by Governor Cuomo."
The editorial states, "Even if Ms. James allegations hold up, her proposed solution — dissolution of an exceptionally distinguished organization whose history dates back to 1871 — hardly seems apt. The NRA, Judge Cohen notes, 'is a prominent advocacy organization that represents the interests of millions of members.' Quoth the judge: 'The State-sponsored dissolution of such an entity is not something to be taken lightly or without a compelling need.'" READ MORE
NRA Scores Court Victory Against AG Letitia James in New York
The Daily Caller, March 2, 2022
The Daily Caller reports that the NRA won a legal victory today when a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the New York Attorney General cannot dissolve the gun-rights group.
“In short, the Complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the ‘corporate death penalty,'” New York Supreme Judge Joel Cohen ruled.
“This is a resounding win for the NRA, its 5 million members, and all who believe in this organization,” NRA President Charles Cotton said. “The message is loud and clear: the NRA is strong and secure in its mission to protect constitutional freedom.”
The Daily Caller reports that Judge Cohen also dismissed claims of unjust enrichment and violations of the Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act, “which seek essentially the same financial relief as other claims,” according to the ruling. READ MORE
Judge Tosses New York AG’s Bid to Dissolve NRA
The Wall Street Journal, March 2, 2022
The Wall Street Journal reports that a state court judge dismissed the New York Attorney General's attempt to dissolve the NRA, "ruling that the state's allegations of corruption and mismanagement by NRA top officials fell short of the public harm required to impose the 'corporate death penalty' on a nonprofit group."
The Journal noted that the ruling "represented a big win for the NRA."
“We applaud the court’s recognition that dissolution is neither appropriate nor justified,” said William A. Brewer III, an outside attorney for the NRA. “We look forward to continuing the defense of the NRA—and proving that it acts in the best interests of its members and the Second Amendment freedoms in which they believe.” READ MORE
Editorial: Don't Dissolve NRA: State AG's Effort to Disband Gun-Rights Group is an Overreach
December 16, 2021
The NNY 360 Editorial Board writes that a state court judge was right to question why the New York Attorney General is seeking to dissolve the NRA. The editorial notes that, during a hearing on December 10, Judge Joel M. Cohen pressed this issue with the attorney general's office.
The publication writes that "[t]he organization has a constitutional right to advocate its positions on firearms, no matter how much others oppose them. James should exercise prudence on this matter. If she continues pushing to disband the NRA, she’ll resemble someone using government power to crush the First Amendment rights of constituents. It’s unacceptable to have state officials who advocate such behavior." READ MORE
New York Judge Presses State on NRA Dissolution Effort
December 10, 2021
Reuters reports that, during a hearing on December 10, a "judge questioned whether New York Attorney General Letitia James' bid to shut down the National Rifle Association goes too far if the issues she has with the gun rights group are limited to alleged financial misconduct by its leadership."
The report states that Justice Joel Cohen of the New York State Supreme Court pressed counsel for the NYAG on whether dissolution is appropriate rather than "addressing the specific problem."
According to Reuters, the judge did not indicate when he may issue a ruling. READ MORE
NRA Files Motion to Dismiss New York AG's Lawsuit for Dissolution
The New York Law Journal
September 16, 2021
The New York Law Journal reports that the NRA has filed a Motion to Dismiss the New York Attorney General's (NYAG) Amended Complaint, filed on August 16, 2021. The Motion to Dismiss claims that the NYAG seeks to dissolve the NRA in an effort to "silence the constitutionally guaranteed political speech of its 5 million members."
“Since taking office in 2019, the Attorney General has ignored evidence that dissolution is improper and that the NRA Board of Directors acted appropriately at all times,” William Brewer, counsel to the NRA, told the Journal. “The NRA will continue to confront this partisan attack—in the interest of its members and the Second Amendment freedom for which they stand.” READ MORE
NRA Says Its ‘Corporate Death’ Unwarranted in New York Lawsuit
September 16, 2021
Bloomberg reports that the NRA "urged a judge to dismiss a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying she hasn’t shown rampant misconduct by top executives. Even if she could prove her claims, they would mean the NRA was a victim and that James’ push to dissolve the guns-rights group is misguided, it argued in a court filing." READ MORE
NRA Says Bankruptcy Shows Why NY Attorney General Cannot Shut It Down
July 21, 2021
Reuters reports that a court filing by the NRA argues that the dismissal of its bankruptcy case and judge’s findings demonstrate that New York Attorney General Letitia James cannot dissolve the organization for alleged corruption.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Harlin D. Hale’s decision cited testimony that the NRA’s finances were the strongest in years and that the NRA “now understands the importance of compliance.” The filing also renewed the NRA’s demand for an injunction against a shutdown. READ MORE
Editorial: False NRA Fraud Charges Leveled by Democrats Show the Left is Desperate, and Deluded
NBC News Editorial
July 21, 2021
David Coy, chairman of the NRA Finance Committee, authors an editorial that contends that a recent bankruptcy case demonstrated that the NRA is going strong and making improvements, undermining the New York Attorney General's case against it.
Coy writes, "James’ case is based on the premise that the NRA does not operate in compliance with New York laws for operating nonprofits and is not committed to good governance. But the testimony at the bankruptcy trial and Hale’s opinion makes it clear that the opposite is true.... Apparently, so compelling was the evidence in the view of Hale that he specifically referred to the NRA’s 'course correction' and commended it for elevating one of those whistleblowers — whom the court called a 'champion of compliance' — to chief financial officer (and who has been elected by the board as treasurer)."
Coy closes by stating that the NRA will emerge from its dispute with the New York Attorney General "bigger, stronger and more determined than ever to accomplish its mission." READ MORE
NRA Countersues NY Attorney General for Trying to Dissolve 'Political Enemy'
February 24, 2021
Reuters writes that the NRA has filed a countersuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying she lacks authority to invoke state laws governing nonprofits to dissolve "political entities" such as itself.
In a Tuesday night filing with a New York state court in Manhattan, the gun rights group, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, accused James of pursuing a "blatant and malicious retaliation campaign" against it because she dislikes what it stands for. READ MORE
Attorneys General Issue Statements on Amicus Brief Backing NRA Lawsuit
On December 21, sixteen Republican attorneys general filed an amicus brief in support of the NRA's lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James. The following are statements released by some of the attorneys general:
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge:
“Even if it makes me unpopular in places like New York, I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms. That is why I oppose the New York Attorney General’s political stunt and am proud to lead these 16 States in supporting the NRA’s lawsuit against New York. I repeat my invitation to the NRA: The Natural State would happily welcome an organization that fights for the Second Amendment rights of Arkansans and all Americans.”
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr:
“The Second Amendment is a basic and essential constitutional right, and I will always defend the ability of Georgians to exercise their right to defend themselves, their families and their property."
Kentucky Governor Daniel Cameron:
“For nearly 150 years, the NRA has advocated for the Second Amendment rights of citizens across the country and given their membership a platform to advocate for policies consistent with these rights. New York’s lawsuit threatens the constitutionally protected work of the NRA and, if successful, would greatly diminish the voice that Kentucky’s NRA members have in the process. The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental constitutional right, and we’re going to fight to protect it.”
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry:
“The New York Attorney General’s actions threaten the civil rights of five million NRA members - including citizens of Louisiana. I am proud to fight back against this partisan attack on the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who respect the constitutional right to keep and bear arms."
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey:
“New York’s lawsuit seeks to destroy the Second Amendment. West Virginia remains in fervent support of the Second Amendment. Our office will vigorously oppose any effort to roll back gun rights and attack those who cherish the freedom to bear arms."
Sixteen GOP Attorneys General Back NRA in Federal Lawsuit
The Wall Street Journal
December 22, 2020
Sixteen Republican attorneys general on Tuesday filed a brief in support of the National Rifle Association’s federal lawsuit against Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying she targeted the nation’s largest and most powerful gun-rights group because she disagreed with its politics.
“The New York AG cannot be allowed to wield the power of her office to discriminate against the NRA simply because she doesn’t like its members’ political views, advocacy, and defense of a fundamental constitutional right,” the filing said. READ MORE
Republican Attorneys General Back NRA in Fight Against New York Effort to Dissolve Gun Rights Group
The Washington Post
December 22, 2020
The Washington Post reports, "The ongoing legal battle between the National Rifle Association and New York’s attorney general escalated Tuesday when 16 Republican attorneys general backed the gun rights group in seeking to block a New York effort to dissolve the tax-exempt organization.
"In August, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) filed a lawsuit that also called for the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group to finance a luxury lifestyle.
"James’s Republican counterparts Tuesday filed an amicus brief in federal district court in Albany challenging New York’s legal efforts." READ MORE
NRA, Battling on 2 Fronts, Aims to Move AG James' Lawsuit Out of New York City
New York Law Journal
November 13, 2020
The National Rifle Association is battling in court on two fronts to move a high-profile lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James aiming to dissolve the gun-rights group out of New York City.
The NRA has asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to send four federal lawsuits focused on its financial troubles to a courtroom in North Texas. The cases include a First Amendment lawsuit the NRA filed against James. But, in an unusual move, the NRA’s motion suggests that an MDL could include the attorney general’s case, pending in Manhattan Supreme Court.
James was dismissive of the NRA’s maneuvering as her office responded on Thursday.
But NRA attorney William Brewer argues that James’ lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court, must be folded into an MDL because it contains the same testimony and evidence that are subject to the other actions. In a footnote to its motion, the NRA said it “takes the view that the action belongs in federal court as a compulsory counterclaim” because James did not actually file a verified complaint until four days after the NRA’s countersuit. READ MORE
ACLU: The NRA Has a Right to Exist
The Wall Street Journal
August 25, 2020
In a commentary published by The Wall Street Journal, ACLU National Legal Director David Cole writes:
The American Civil Liberties Union rarely finds itself on the same side as the National Rifle Association in policy debates or political disputes. Still, we are disturbed by New York Attorney General Letitia James’s recent effort to dissolve the NRA.
Ms. James’s office charges that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and other officials misdirected millions of the organization’s charitable funds for their personal use. But the attorney general’s complaint doesn’t stop there. It attempts to dissolve the NRA altogether, thereby penalizing the entire organization for the wrongs of some of its leaders.
The NRA isn’t popular with New York’s politicians. Ms. James has called it a “terrorist organization.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo had his chief financial regulator urge New York banks and insurers to reconsider doing business with the NRA and other “gun promotion” groups, and proclaimed in a campaign mailer that “If the NRA goes bankrupt, I will remember them in my thoughts and prayers.”
You may have your own opinions about the NRA, but all Americans should be concerned about this sort of overreach. If the New York attorney general can do this to the NRA, why couldn’t the attorney general of a red state take similar action against the ACLU, the AFL-CIO, Common Cause, or Everytown for Gun Safety? READ MORE
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge: Guns, the NRA and the Second Amendment are Under Assault from the Left
August 21, 2020
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a commentary condemning the lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the NRA.
Rutledge writes, “Just three months before a presidential election, New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed suit against the NRA and several members of its leadership, seeking to have the gun rights organization dissolved. This lawsuit, filed in New York state court, is the apex of a longstanding feud between the NRA and the Democratic state attorney general. James attacked the NRA while she was a candidate for attorney general, calling it a 'terrorist organization' and a 'criminal enterprise.'”
She continues, “…like any good defender of freedom, the NRA is fighting back. The same day New York filed its state suit, the NRA filed its own lawsuit in federal court, pointing to then-candidate James’ campaign promise to 'take on the NRA' if elected. The NRA claims that James’ lawsuit is nothing more than a politically motivated stunt to deliver on that promise — not a response to any real fraud.” READ MORE
Editorial: The Attempt to Dissolve the NRA Threatens Democratic Norms
August 11, 2020
Alan Z. Rozenshtein, an associate professor of law the University of Minnesota Law School, writes that, while the NRA is "one of the most controversial and polarizing organizations in U.S. politics," it would be a "mistake to celebrate the [NYAG's] lawsuit." He contends that NYAG Letitia James' "attempt to dissolve the NRA in its entirety is a violation of key democratic and rule-of-law norms and should be troubling to people who value these norms no matter one’s place on the political spectrum."
Rozenshtein writes that the NYAG's suit threatens two distinct norms: 1) that the state should preserve, to the extent possible, the free exchange of ideas and an open political arena; and 2) that of "impartial justice: officials should not use their powers to go after targets simply because they disagree with their politics."
Rozenshtein argues that James should seek reform, not dissolution, arguing that there is no precedent for such action.
"It’s easy to support good-government norms when they align with one’s political preferences. That’s just cheap talk. The trick is to support them when it’s hard, when you have to make a political sacrifice to do so," Rozenshtein writes. READ MORE
Editorial: Letitia James’ Political Pot-Shots at the NRA
New York Post
August 10, 2020
The New York Post Editorial Board writes, "There she goes again: Attorney General Tish James last week filed another dubious lawsuit, this one seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association. We’ve had differences with the pro-gun group over the years, but James’ attempt to crush it is clearly a political stunt. She’s hoping it will make her a star on the left and lead to favorable headlines for years to come as the suit winds its way through the legal system." READ MORE
Editorial: An Affront to Civil Society
August 10, 2020
Howard Husock, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor of City Journal writes, "Every charitable organization in the United States should be alarmed about New York State Attorney General Letitia James’s legal action to dissolve the National Rifle Association—including groups that oppose gun rights and would repeal the Second Amendment, as well as those whose missions have nothing to do with guns.
"That concern has nothing to do with whether the charges James has levied against the NRA leadership are true. If NRA president Wayne LaPierre has misappropriated organization funds for personal use, a legal penalty may well be deserved, and he should be fired. But the penalty proposed by James—dissolution of the NRA—is alarming. A single state government would be acting not only against alleged misappropriation of funds but also an entire political constituency." READ MORE
Editorial: NY Tries To ‘Dissolve’ The NRA: Far Left’s War Against The Constitution Never Ends
Issues & Insights
August 7, 2020
The I&I Editorial Board writes, "Whenever the far left loses a debate, it doesn’t sharpen its arguments or seek compromise. Instead, it criminalizes those with whom it disagrees. That’s happening now in New York, where the attorney general is making a politicized attack on the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Constitution." READ MORE
Turley: The Tragic Irony of the New York State Lawsuit Against the NRA
August 8, 2020
Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, writes, "It is a good thing that Ambrose Burnside is not alive to see this. New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a 169-page complaint seeking, among other things, the dissolution of the National Rifle Association. For the hapless Burnside, it is one final indignity.
"Widely ridiculed as an unimaginative Union commander during the Civil War, Burnside has only two lasting legacies. First, his facial hair was so prominent that others started to sport “Burnsides” (or, as they were later known, sideburns). Second, he was the NRA’s first president in 1871. Now, James wants to leave him literally with just his whiskers." READ MORE
Opinion: New York’s Attorney General Shouldn’t Dismantle the NRA
August 6, 2020
Bloomberg Opinion columnist Noah Feldman writes, "The attorney general of New York has sued to seek the dissolution of the National Rifle Association, alleging fraud and abuse in the way the NRA’s chief executive and other officials ran the operation. Given that the NRA has played such a powerfully destructive role in U.S. politics, fighting against gun regulations that demonstrably save lives, it’s tempting to react with applause.
"Yet even liberals who oppose the NRA’s mission should take a deep breath and ask: Do we really want an elected attorney general to try to destroy a prominent nongovernmental organization that is arrayed on the other side of the political spectrum from her? What if this were Alabama and the organization were the NAACP? Or Tennessee and the ACLU?" READ MORE
NRA's LaPierre Responds to NY Lawsuit: 'Bring It On'
August 6, 2020
The Hill reports that CEO Wayne LaPierre said the gun rights group is ready for the fight following the announcement of a lawsuit from the New York attorney general seeking to dissolve it.
In his first statement on the lawsuit on Thursday, LaPierre called New York Attorney General Letitia James’s (D) actions “an affront to democracy and freedom.” READ MORE
Editorial: The NRA's Fight in New York Is For All Americans
The New York Sun
August 6, 2020
The New York Sun Editorial Board writes, "The thing to keep in mind during the legal war launched today between New York State and the National Rifle Association is that the Second Amendment does not exist in New York City and state. It has been blocked at every level by state and local authorities. In New York, there is no right to — in the plain language of the Constitution — keep and bear arms. The right has been denied as a matter of policy for decades." READ MORE
NRA Seeks to Renew Objections to Former Ad Agency's Production of Documents, Citing Privilege
New York Law Journal
May 18, 2020
Attorneys representing the National Rifle Association are once again seeking to stay the production of documents by its former advertising agency to the New York Attorney General’s Office, a process that the gun rights advocacy group argues will violate its right to attorney-client privilege. READ MORE
Civ Pro Professor Arthur Miller Says NRA Has Right to Review Ad Agency's Response to Subpoena
New York Law Journal
November 15, 2019
Law professor and author Arthur Miller, appearing as an expert in civil procedure Thursday, agreed with the National Rifle Association’s argument that the New York Attorney General’s Office cannot prevent the gun-rights group from reviewing potentially privileged material in the possession of its former advertising agency Ackerman McQueen, which has received a state subpoena.
The subpoena is related to the Attorney General’s Office’s ongoing investigation into the NRA and its financial affairs, which was publicly confirmed in April. READ MORE
National Rifle Association, New York Attorney General Square Off In Heated Courtroom Battle
October 31, 2019
The New York State Attorney General's Office and the National Rifle Association squared off in state court Thursday morning, as the two quarreled over whether the NRA had a right to review documents related to the attorney general's investigation into its tax-exempt status.
New York County Supreme Court Justice Melissa A. Crane held off announcing a final decision at the end of the hearing, though the fractious nature of the disagreement and the potential consequences of Attorney General Letitia James's probe loomed large over Thursday's arguments. READ MORE
NRA Spars With N.Y. AG Over Subpoena of Its Former Ad Agency
October 31, 2019
The National Rifle Association and the New York attorney general’s office squared off in a Manhattan court over whether the gun-rights organization has the power to prevent state investigators from seeing documents subpoenaed from its former advertising agency. READ MORE
NRA Says It Doesn't Have To Comply With New York AG If It Doesn't Think It Is Getting In Her Way
October 2, 2019
New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued the National Rifle Association and its former public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, over what she alleges is a pattern of obstruction and interference from the nation's largest gun-rights group as part of her office's ongoing investigation into its tax-exempt status. READ MORE
New York Sues NRA's Former Ad Agency Over Subpoena
October 1, 2019
New York Attorney General Letitia James on Monday sued the National Rifle Association's (NRA) former advertising agency to enforce a subpoena related to the gun group's nonprofit status. READ MORE
N.Y. Attorney General Launches Probe of NRA Finances
New York Daily News
April 27, 2019
Charges that National Rifle Association officials have mismanaged the gun-rights group’s money have prompted a probe by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The attorney general “has launched an investigation related to the National Rifle Association (NRA),” spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly said Saturday in an email. “As part of this investigation, the Attorney General has issued subpoenas.” READ MORE