• To Limit the Second Amendment, New York Attacks the First

    From Gene Poole@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 31 11:07:55 2019
    XPost: alt.freespeech, alt.survival, alt.politics.usa.constitution
    XPost: soc.retirement

    The state has no right to threaten financial institutions that
    do business with the NRA.
    Imagine the following scenario. Imagine the media response.

    By October, the governor of Texas was fed up. A well-funded ten-
    month campaign by Everytown for Gun Safety designed to
    stigmatize gun ownership was causing support for gun rights to
    measurably decline. Called “You afraid?” the campaign mocked men
    and women who carried weapons to grocery stores or restaurants.
    An associated “courage” campaign asked mothers to hand back
    their carry licenses, and while most didn’t, the dozens who did
    received international media attention.

    Then, two weeks before Halloween, a gunman opened fire in a
    Houston Walmart, and no one responded for nine agonizing minutes
    until police arrived. This was Texas. The store wasn’t a gun-
    free zone — yet not a single armed citizen was available to

    The governor was furious. In public comments, he blasted
    Everytown, declaring — in no uncertain terms — that “gun-
    controllers have no place in Texas. Because that’s not who we
    are.” But words mean nothing without action, and the state of
    Texas acted. The governor directed state regulators to “urge
    insurers and bankers statewide to determine whether any
    relationship they may have with Everytown or similar
    organizations sends the wrong message to their clients and their
    communities who often look to them for guidance and support.”

    Regulators responded, issuing “guidance letters” directed at the
    chief executive officers, or equivalents, of all Texas licensed
    financial institutions and all insurers doing business in Texas.
    The letters urged recipients to sever ties with Everytown and
    other “gun controller organizations.” The letters went well
    beyond a mere political exhortation and invoked the private
    corporations’ “risk management” obligations and their
    obligations to consider “reputational risks.”

    State regulators began investigating Everytown’s business
    transactions in the state and coerced key vendors into consent
    decrees that not only punished allegedly unlawful activity but
    banned those vendors from engaging in entirely lawful business
    relationships with the gun-control organization. As state
    regulators moved, other commercial entities backed away — ending
    longstanding business relationships with Everytown.

    Let me ask a simple question. If Texas acted like this — if it
    used state financial regulators to issue warning letters to
    institutions doing business with an organization unquestionably
    engaged in constitutionally protected advocacy — do you think
    for one moment that America’s mainstream media would remain
    silent, or speak up mainly to chuckle at Everytown’s financial
    predicament? Do you think for one moment that America’s leading
    progressives wouldn’t sense an immediate threat to free speech?

    Yet the scenario above is playing out today, in a different
    state, with a different target. New York’s Andrew Cuomo is
    engaging in a deliberate campaign to use state power to drive
    the NRA out of business. It’s using a combination of consent
    decrees and warning letters directed at financial institutions
    to coerce them into cutting of business relationships with the

    Cuomo’s intentions aren’t hidden. He’s on a crusade. “If I could
    have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years
    ago,” he said earlier this week. He followed up with this pithy
    statement: “I’m tired of hearing the politicians say, we’ll
    remember them in our thoughts and prayers. If the NRA goes away,
    I’ll remember the NRA in my thoughts and prayers.”

    Clever. But when statements like this are accompanied by state
    action, there’s another word that applies — unconstitutional.

    New York’s lawyers argue that the state’s letters represent
    nothing more than government speech. The NRA and the state are
    engaged in nothing more than a frank exchange of ideas. But
    while the government does have broad power to engage in its own
    advocacy, that power has its limits. As the Second Circuit has
    recognized, there is a difference between “permissible
    expressions of personal opinion and implied threats to employ
    coercive State power to stifle protected speech.” When “comments
    of a government official can reasonably be interpreted as
    intimating that some form of punishment or adverse regulatory
    action will follow the failure to accede to the official’s
    request,” a First Amendment claim exists.

    It simply strains credulity to argue that a financial
    regulator’s letter to the financial institutions it closely
    regulates urging those institutions to consider “risk
    management” when dealing with the NRA is nothing more than
    robust debate. Indeed, the letter at issue is explicitly phrased
    as offering regulatory “guidance.” The NRA also claims this
    “guidance” — combined with other state actions — is making
    corporations fear reprisals if they continue to do business with
    the NRA. Here’s a key claim in the NRA complaint:

    On or about February 25, 2018, the Chairman of Lockton
    Companies, placed a distraught telephone call to the NRA.
    Lockton had been a close business partner of the NRA for nearly
    twenty years; its commitment to the parties’ business
    relationship had not wavered in connection with the Parkland
    tragedy, nor the prior Sandy Hook tragedy, nor any previous wave
    of public controversy relating to gun control. Nonetheless,
    although he expressed that Lockton privately wished to continue
    doing business with the NRA, the chairman confided that Lockton
    would need to “drop” the NRA — entirely — for fear of “losing
    [our] license” to do business in New York.

    New York has filed a motion to dismiss the NRA’s claims, but it
    is imperative that New York’s actions be subject to full and
    fair discovery. The extent of public animus directed at the NRA,
    the specific “guidance” and consent decrees, and the allegations
    of “backroom” pressures at the very least deserve the scrutiny
    of civil litigation and at the very least should raise the alarm
    of civil libertarians — regardless of their positions on gun

    As I’ve written many times before, the battle over gun rights
    has devolved into a bitter, unyielding culture war, and in a
    culture war, civil liberties are often the first casualty. State
    officials have their own free-speech rights, yes, but those free-
    speech rights do not include the right to use express or implied
    threats to wield state power against disfavored viewpoints.

    Heckle all you want, Governor Cuomo. Display your malice. But
    the instant that malice translates into state action aimed at
    speech is the instant the Constitution holds you to account.

    NOW WATCH: Trump Stands Behind 2nd Amendment Rights In Speech To

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/08/new-york-nra-second- amendment-first-amendment-
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