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Supreme Court Rules For NRA In New York Government Coercion Battle

Supreme Court rules for NRA in New York government coercion battle

FILE - An NRA sign is seen outside the track of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, Friday April 12, 2013. The National Rifle Association, on Monday, May 20, 2024, elevated executive Doug Hamlin as CEO of the gun-rights lobbying group, months after the resignation of longtime leader Wayne La Pierre. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp, File)

The US Supreme Court revived National Rifle Association claims that a New York state official unconstitutionally pressured insurance companies including Chubb Ltd. and Lloyd’s of London to stop doing business with the gun lobby.

The justices unanimously said the state’s alleged “blacklisting” of the NRA, if proven, would violate the group’s free speech rights. The ruling set aside a federal appeals court decision that backed former Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo.

The decision limits the power government officials have to use their positions in ways that might undermine work of advocacy groups. The court is considering similar issues in a still-pending fight over Biden administration communications with social media companies.

The dispute involves Vullo’s 2017-18 investigation of the NRA’s “Carry Guard” insurance program, which covers losses associated with the use of personal firearms, including criminal defense costs. The NRA alleges Vullo went on to target other insurance products it endorsed, saying she threatened the companies offering the policies with investigations and penalties if they didn’t distance themselves from the gun-rights group.

“The complaint, assessed as a whole, plausibly alleges that Vullo threatened to wield her power against those refusing to aid her campaign to punish the NRA’s gun-promotion advocacy,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the court.

The NRA also points to guideline letters and a press release in which Vullo urged insurers to evaluate the risk to their reputations if they dealt with the NRA. She issued those documents after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

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