The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out in defense of
the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Friday, accusing
Governor Andrew Cuomo of violating the First Amendment by
targeting the group’s access to basic financial services.
ACLU legal director David Cole sided firmly with the NRA in its
ongoing legal battle against the Cuomo administration, which has
conducted a sustained campaign to deprive the Second Amendment
advocacy group of access to insurance and banking services.
“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,”
Cole wrote. “Because we believe the governor’s actions, as
alleged, threaten the First Amendment rights of all advocacy
organizations, the ACLU on Friday filed a friend-of-the-court
brief supporting the NRA’s right to have its day in court.”
The NRA sued the Cuomo administration in May, alleging the state
financial regulatory agency engaged in a “blacklisting campaign”
against banks and insurance companies contracted with the NRA,
infringing upon the group’s constitutional right to “speak
freely about gun-related issues and defend the Second Amendment.”
The suit was filed after insurance companies Lockton and Chubb
were fined $7 million and $1.3 million respectively for insuring
the NRAÆs Carry Guard program, which reimburses licensed gun
owners for legal expenses incurred after justifiably firing
NRA officials claim that they have been unable to replace the
sanctioned insurance providers, who revoked their services
following the fines, due to fear among their competitors that
they will be similarly targeted by the state’s regulator
After stipulating that the “ACLU does not oppose reasonable
restrictions on guns,” Cole argues that the court should allow
the NRAÆs suit against the Cuomo administration to proceed into
the discovery phase, despite the state’s motion to dismiss.
Cuomo, who routinely invokes his administration’s opposition to
the NRA, celebrated the group’s potential demise in a mailer
sent to voters this week.
“If the NRA goes bankrupt, I will remember them in my thoughts
and prayers,” the mailer read.