On Tuesday, January 16, 2024, America’s Future filed an Amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in National Rifle Association of America v Maria T. Vullo, SCOTUS Dkt. No. 22-842. The SCOTUS public docket for this case is located here. The brief was filed in support of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the petitioner in this case, and its position that its First Amendment rights were violated when former New York state government officials of Andrew Cuomo’s administration threatened banks, insurance companies, and other entities, with adverse regulatory action if they conducted business with the NRA. Nineteen other nonprofit organizations joined the brief.
This is the second Amicus brief filed by America’s Future in this case. On May 24, 2023, America’s Future filed an initial Amicus brief, urging the SCOTUS to grant NRA’s petition for certiorari and resolve the case on its merits. At the time it filed its petition, the NRA presented the following two questions to the SCOTUS:
1. Does the First Amendment allow a government regulator to threaten regulated entities with adverse regulatory actions if they do business with a controversial speaker, as a consequence of (a) the government’s own hostility to the speaker’s viewpoint or (b) a perceived “general backlash” against the speaker’s advocacy?
2. Does such coercion violate a clearly established First Amendment right?
On November 3, 2023, the SCOTUS agreed to hear the case on its merits but limited the issue to question one (1), above.
Today, Americans are keenly aware of the pervasive nature of executive branch officials deploying methods of coercion such as intimidation and threats against private entities in what is a proxy effort to censor the constitutionally protected speech of their political opponents.
The idea that executive branch officials exert their power over entities in the private sector to demonetize, deplatform, and suppress ideas and advocacy groups considered hostile to their political ideologies is not only disturbing, but wholly un-American. This conduct interferes with elections and prevents self-governance, the primary principle this nation was built upon.
The notion that political power is being abused at the local and national level to deprive citizens of rights guaranteed to them under the First and Second Amendments for political purposes and to achieve political powers is intolerable.
And, to be clear, this case is, by no means, an outlier or isolated event. As explained in the brief, juxtaposing this case next to another case now before SCOTUS, i.e. Murthy v Missouri, (more commonly referred to as Missouri v Biden), SCOTUS Dkt. 23-411, demonstrates the broader societal problem we face as a nation.
Just as the New York authorities told the insurance companies they had to protect against ‘reputational risk,’ the Biden Administration told the Big Tech companies that they must guard against information coming from ‘Foreign Malign States.’ Neither rationale has withstood scrutiny. Both the Biden Administration and the Cuomo Administration have had the same objective — to target and silence domestic political opponents in violation of the First Amendment.
Our brief provides the SCOTUS with ample insight and information illustrating the irreparable public harms at stake if Article III courts, including the SCOTUS, allow such abuses of power and tyrannical conduct by an executive branch at the state or national level to go unchecked. America’s Future stands for the U.S. Constitution and its principle of limited government power. We urge the SCOTUS to reverse the judgment of the Second Circuit in this case. The SCOTUS is the last line of defense against egregious governmental intrusions on our freedom and untenable assaults on our liberties. As stated in our brief,
It is one thing for opposing political parties and candidates to square off in the political arena to persuade voters to vote them into office. It is quite another to allow incumbents to abuse government powers to censor or attack political opponents. The heavy hand of government must be removed from the political scale, or the will of the people will never be truly known.
Editor’s Note: To read all of our Amicus briefs, please visit our Law & Policy page.