Supreme Court Upholds First Amendment in NRA v. Vullo

( – In 2017, former Superintendent Maria Vullo of the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) discovered during an investigation into an insurance policy called Carry Guard that allegedly provided insurance coverage for intentional criminal acts that violated New York State laws. Vullo reportedly promised to look the other way if the insurance company with the policy stopped working with the NRA and other gun advocacy groups. The NRA sued, and the Supreme Court recently handed down its decision.

On May 30, SCOTUS ruled on NRA v. Vullo, finding in unanimous favor of reinstating the plaintiff’s suit. The justices found that the NY DFS could have violated the First Amendment by strong-arming regulated companies to end their business relationships with the NRA and other such entities. The court ruled that the defendant might have gone too far in coercing these businesses to punish or suppress the association’s gun promotion advocacy — violating its freedom of speech.

The case will now be returned to the Court of Appeals, where the judges are instructed to consider whether or not Vullo has qualified immunity. The lower court must also reconsider the NRA’s censorship and retaliation claims separately from whether or not Vullo used her position as a government official in a coercive manner.

The NRA v. Vullo matter already went through the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which reversed Senior US District Judge Thomas McAvoy’s ruling that the case could go forward. The appeals court found that the plaintiff’s allegations didn’t constitute an “unconstitutional threat or coercion to chill the NRA’s free speech.”

While Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted that the former superintendent was “free to criticize the NRA and pursue the conceded violations of New York insurance law,” she was not free to use her power to “threaten enforcement actions” against companies that didn’t comply with her views.

Vullo’s team contends that she did not coerce anyone using her position and was “disappointed” by the decision. However, First Amendment groups hailed the ruling as a win for free speech.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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