The American Civil Liberties Union is siding with the National Rifle Association in opposing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s attempts to silence the NRA by putting it out of business.
In July, the NRA claimed in its suit against the state that New York’s financial regulatory bureau was conducting a “blacklisting campaign” against it by raising the specter of regulation if organizations failed to sever ties with the NRA.
“Those allegations represent a blatant violation of the First Amendment,” the ACLU said.
“Although public officials are free to express their opinions and may condemn viewpoints or groups they view as inimical to public welfare, they cannot abuse their regulatory authority to retaliate against disfavored advocacy organizations and to impose burdens on those organizations’ ability to conduct lawful business,” said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss, according to Independent Journal Review.
A spokeswoman for the NRA said the ACLU’s support shows the merits of its claims against Cuomo.
“When an organization that is normally on the opposite side from you, joins you in a huge fight against a devout enemy, you know the gun-hating, gun-banning, bullying, anti-Second Amendment, enemies of Freedom are way out of control,” the NRA’s Marion Hammer said.
— NY2A (@NY2Agrassroots) August 25, 2018
The ACLU said that while political arguments are one thing, threats to an organization’s survival are another.
“There’s nothing wrong with the governor singling out a political adversary for criticism, or even mockery. That’s just politics, and the NRA itself is no stranger to hardball tactics,” David Cole, the ACLU’s legal director, wrote in an ACLU blog.
But Cuomo went too far, Cole said.
“In the ACLU’s view, targeting a nonprofit advocacy group and seeking to deny it financial services because it promotes a lawful activity (the use of guns) violates the First Amendment,” he wrote, saying the actions Cuomo took “threaten the First Amendment rights of all advocacy organizations.”
Cole made it clear that the ACLU does not support the NRA’s positions, but is acting out of self-interest for liberal groups.
The @ACLU condemns the alleged attempt of @AndrewCuomo to suppress the free speech rights of the NRA, by threatening banks and insurers with punishment for associating with the gun group. https://t.co/ljrnFMwk35 pic.twitter.com/U4XIOt7wmw
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 25, 2018
“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,” he wrote.
Cuomo, who is facing re-election this fall, said in April that attacking the NRA “is a matter of public safety” and that connections to the NRA send the “wrong message” to insurance and bank customers, Independent Journal Review reported.
“The Department encourages regulated institutions to review any relationships they have with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations, and to take prompt actions to managing these risks and promote public health and safety,” Maria T. Vullo, the superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial services, said in a letter Cuomo had sent to agencies who could face the long arm of state regulators.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.