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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.

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

The authors state that the "goal was to punish the NRA for its gun rights advocacy." They write, "It’s fanciful to suggest that selling insurance to, or in partnership with, the NRA poses a threat to New York’s financial system. More important, the Constitution’s protections don’t amount to much if government officials can censor disfavored opinions simply by labeling them 'reputational risk.'” 

They continue, "And even if such risk is real, empowering government officials to engage in censorship on that basis creates a heckler’s veto over controversial speech: Gin up enough online outrage or disagreement by officials or purported experts, and you can justify censoring anything or anyone."

The authors state that they support the NRA’s continued pursuit of the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, noting that DFS has "broad discretionary power to regulate industries on which almost everybody depends. That makes it all the more crucial to ensure that it respects the Constitution."



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