In the (not so) olden days, we had Operation Choke Point. That was the Obama Justice Department’s 2013 effort to squeeze firearms-related firms by threatening banks and other financial institutions that dared to do business with them. That legal and financial intimidation finally ended in 2017 with the change of administrations.
Now that the federal government’s no longer trying to effect extra-legislative gun control via prosecutorial and regulatory coercion, the state of New York has happily stepped into that role.
As we’ve written in the past, Governor Andrew Cuomo and his Superintendent of Financial Services, Maria T. Vullo, have taken up where Operation Choke Point left off, specifically targeting financial firms that do business with the National Rifle Association.
The NRA responded to New York’s efforts to force it into insolvency by filing suit against Cuomo and Vullo in May, claiming violations of their First Amendment rights. You can read the complaint here.
Today, as the Courthouse New Service is reporting, the Hon. Thomas J. McAvoy of the Northern District of New York will hear arguments from the state in an attempt to have the suit dismissed.
Facing a claim for tens of millions of dollars in damages, New York shot back that its use of enforcement actions to punish violations “do not … implicate the NRA’s First Amendment rights.”
New York argues as well that the guidance letters it sends to banks and insurers qualify as protected government speech.
“The NRA has failed to – because it cannot – allege any particularized instances of speech that have directly been stifled by defendants’ alleged conduct,” the state argued in a motion to dismiss last month.
We don’t know about the merits of the First Amendment arguments alleged in the suit, but Governor Soprano has made no bones about his efforts to squeeze the NRA just as hard as he can. As he told MSNBC,
I think these are bad guys. … Look, from my point of view, I do disagree with them politically. And if they have less money to bully and threaten politicians into irrational positions, you know, I’m not going to lose any sleep over that. And if they went away, you know, I would offer my thoughts and prayers, Joe. Just like they do every time we have another situation with innocents losing their lives.
There’s also the fact that the American Civil Liberties Union — of all people — has taken the NRA’s side in the case.
In a brief filed in federal court today, the ACLU argues that New York’s strong-arm efforts to compel banks and insurance companies to ditch the NRA as a customer represent a glaring violation of the First Amendment.
“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,” the ACLU says.
Again, that’s not a quote from Alan Gura or Larry Keane, that’s from our friends at the ACLU.
As to what will happen in court today, your guess is as good as ours. But however the judge rules, this isn’t close to being over.
I am watching this close. Cuomo broke the law. The NRA will win at least 25 million in damages or more. Cuomo is the reason why the NRA can’t give the $2,500 worth of gun coverage for free if your gun is stolen. Also, it is illegal to threaten a non-profit organizations sponsors. Even the ACLU agrees with the NRA in this lawsuit.
25 million? Wow! Maybe they’ll have money left after paying their million dollar executive salaries to their “moderate” gun grabber leadership!
triggered nancy right on schedule.
Yeah, I am really getting tired to that guy! Is NRA perfect? No. So if you want to do something about it, support Adam Kraut who is running for the board again!
He has all the depth of a symphony that only has one note.
I really wish NRA could sting Cuomo for $25 mil, but you know it’ll be the taxpayer who forks up the bucks, if any. If that’s the case, it’d have to be $250 mil to make any impression.
It was the tax payer who put this asshole in office in the first place. They deserve what they get.
Imagine if the NRA lost this lawsuit. It would open Trump up to threatening banks and insurance companies to not do business with leftwing organizations. And he has a lot more power to make them squirm.
Heads we win, tails they lose.
Why must you start this story with a picture of this demented ahole? Cut me a break, I just ate!
That picture makes me think of Freaky Fred from Courage the Cowardly Dog, just change the hair and eyebrows.
Can’t Sleep! Clown Will Eat me!
Someone has been… nnnaaauuuggghhhtttyyy…
to me he looks like a grinning lizard.
Oh wait. He is a grinning lizard.
Gonna have nightmares after seeing that lead photo. That guy looks seriously unhinged. Probably because he is.
Are you NY people short on tar/feathers, fence rails, concrete overshoes, guillotine?
They love Cuomo in NY, guy is going to win re-election in a landslide.
Correction: NYC loves Cuomo. Most upstate people can’t wait for him to move to Puerto Rico. He seems more concerned with them than he does us.
Don’t be surprised if the NY judge sides with Cuomo. I would not expect a proper ruling until the NRA appeals to a court outside of NY.
I hope we win(I am the NRA).
I have some thoughts ,and prayers : I wish and pray king Soprano looses his Governership. Any & every single gun owner in N.Y. need to get out and vote his highness out of office !! Coumo has no respect for our rights. Shameful bullying tactics from his throne. He will be the demise of our right to keep and bear arms.
I’ll just drop this here:
TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 241
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;…
They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.
Absolutely. And since corporations are considered to have the same rights as “persons” – the harassment of the NRA certainly should be considered to qualify for prosecution of this as a Federal case. If only…..
Actually, it would be the next section (242) that specifically calls out these penalties when someone endeavors to deprive us of our rights under color of law. I cannot think of a clearer example of someone acting under color of law than a governor sending a directive under their official title and state seal/letterhead.
If Governor Cuomo directed financial institutions and insurance companies to stop conducting business with the NAACP, the mainstream media would immediately demand his head on a platter. Since Cuomo is directing this at a firearms advocacy group, the mainstream media is on board.
This illustrates the depravity of the Left: everything is permissible that oppresses and/or eliminates their political enemies.
My real fantasy about title 18 is the day when folks like newsom, the clintons, pelosi and the rest are perp walked out of their offices by federal officers.
In a just world all the human and civil rights violations these creatures have committed would have them hunted to their dying days like nazi war criminals.
That’s great. When Sessions and the deep state are perp walked out of their entrenched offices, perhaps a fair DOJ will enforce this law against these leftist tyrants. Today, I think we are limited to the slow civil court system.
I’m not anticipating anything useful from any section of DOJ, for decades to come. Probably the best approach would be to close down the entire apparatus, fire everybody, and save money for a few years, then start all over. Federal prisons, shoot all the inmates dead and leave the bodies in the cells, turn in your badge and gun on the way out, you’re fired.
Rodrigo Duterte? Is that you?
It’s one thing if that POS Cuomo says what he says as a private individual. It’s another when he uses the power of the governorship to illegally influence banks and other businesses to help him. I’m hoping that Cuomo is being also personally sued so that a significant amount of his personal wealth is tied up and he loses the governorship. Just about anyone this side of Hillary Clinton would be better than him.
Notably absent from the ACLU’s amicus was their New York affiliate, the NYCLU. The NYCLU has said they won’t back the NRA against Cuomo’s attack on 1A and equal protection. Bunch of unprincipled hacks.
How many teeth does that clown have? Geez it’s got to be a record.
I looked up the judge, he’s a 79 year old Republican who was appointed by former Republican Senator Al D’Amato. Just for reference.
I hope N.Y. C governor and the people of the state on N.Y. take it in the shorts over this case.
TTAG, thanks for keeping us informed on this one. It’s an important case, for many reasons.
New York, where gun rights go to die.
The NRA’s attorneys have been remiss in not adding the claim of illegally restraining interstate commerce. As reprehensible as Operation Choke Point was, the Federal Government has the Constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce. By putting regulatory pressure on financial institutions that provide services outside of New York State Cuomo, et al, are interfering in interstate commerce. It is one step from claiming that if you enter NY you must be in compliance with the Safe Act in your place of residence.
Pretty good coverage of the hearing can be found here:
Whoa! Is he here for court or to kill Batman!?
Cuomo should have to pay out personally for this.
Sub MOA ?
Sorry – maybe I missed something… But since when is the government a citizen? And since, I think, it is not, how is the government’s speech protected?
Why does every picture of Cuomo and his son look like they were just released from a lunatic asylum?