November 6, 2023

Supreme Court Takes on NRA Free Speech Case

The First and Second Amendments are going to be front and center, with the Supreme Court announcing that it will be taking the National Rifle Association's (NRA) free speech rights case.

The NRA is challenging New York for pressuring financial institutions not to do business with the NRA.

While the NRA is known for its Second Amendment battles, this case will actually focus on the First Amendment.

Free Speech for 2A

Prof. Eugene Volokh is one of several people who will be representing the NRA in this case. He is considered to be the foremost scholar on the First Amendment.

In the petition filed by the NRA, it claims the New York Department of Financial Services is using “pressure tactics—including backchannel threats, ominous guidance letters, and selective enforcement of regulatory infractions—to induce banks and insurance companies to avoid doing business with” the NRA.

This is being done, of course, because of the Second Amendment stance taken by the NRA.

Volokh and his colleagues stated:

"The public importance of this case cannot be overstated. A regulatory regime—even a facially content-neutral one—that inhibits protected freedoms of expression and association violates the First Amendment. An overt campaign by state officials to wield regulatory power against a disfavored civil rights organization—here the NRA—precisely because of its disfavored speech at least as clearly merits this Court’s attention and reversal."

The court will also be taking on a case regarding the government classifying bump stock, an accessory, as machine guns, to try to ban them.

A machine gun is defined as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”

The ATF recently redefined the action associated with machine guns that would now include the action created by adding a bump stock to the gun.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) sued under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The NCLA is challenging the ATF's ability to make such a change to the definition that has already been declared by Congress. This is far from the first time that the Biden administration has tried to circumvent Congress.

Both of these cases will be argued during the spring term, with a decision likely to be announced in July.

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