As New York Attorney General Letitia James continues her quest to dissolve the National Rifle Association, the Second Amendment organization has gained more than a dozen allies in their legal battle. Sixteen Attorneys General from across the country have now filed a friend of the court brief in support of the NRA, led by Arkansas AG Leslie Rutledge.
“New York’s lawsuit is a political stunt by a liberal attorney general who promised in her campaign to go after the NRA. It is designed to undermine our Second Amendment right,” said Rutledge.
“Even if it makes me unpopular in places like New York, I stand committed to protecting the Constitution—particularly Arkansans’ right to bear arms. That is why I oppose the New York Attorney General’s political stunt and am proud to lead these 16 States in supporting the NRA’s lawsuit against New York. I repeat my invitation to the NRA: The Natural State would happily welcome an organization that fights for the Second Amendment rights of Arkansans and all Americans.”
Rutledge has been joined in the amicus brief by the Attorneys General of Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.
In the brief, Rutledge argues that James’ actions “threaten the civil rights of five million members” and that the U.S. Constitution “forbids her from taking these actions.”
While state Attorneys General have broad authority to enforce nonprofit governance laws, that authority must be tempered by the First Amendment’s prohibition of infringement of the rights to speech and association. The New York AG cannot be allowed to wield the power of her office to discriminate against the NRA simply because she doesn’t like its’ members political views, advocacy, and defense of a fundamental constitutional right.
As the amicus brief goes on to argue, James claims that dissolving the NRA would somehow benefit its members; that she’s acting in their interest in trying to shutter the organization as it enters its 150th year of operation. That’s nonsense, assert the AGs, who point out that James ran for election with promises to “take down the NRA by any means possible,” and now seems intent on fulfilling her campaign promise.
When government officials, like the New York AG in this case, target organizations for their members’ political viewpoints, they subvert the very freedoms they are sworn to protect. That is especially true here, as New York’s invasive firearms laws make it a frequent target for lawsuits brought by organizations like the NRA and its members. If ever there were a time that an organization required First Amendment protection from a government entity seeking to destroy it, this is it.
You can read the amicus brief for yourself right here, and I’d encourage you to do so, because it’s pretty powerful stuff. Even if you think that the NRA is in need of a housecleaning and internal reforms, the idea of New York’s Attorney General dissolving the organization should leave you cold. It’s not only conservatives or Republicans who’v objected to the idea, by the way. Plenty of folks on the Left have said that James’ attempt to kill off the NRA is legally dubious.
Let’s hope the federal courts agree, and allow the NRA’s challenge to James to proceed. Dissolving the NRA would not only be an attack on millions of its members, but it would open up a Pandora’s Box that would likely lead to red-state Attorney Generals doing the same thing to groups on the Left like Planned Parenthood. Lawfare isn’t just a tool of anti-gun Democrats, and if James is intent on using her power to dissolve the oldest civil rights organization in the U.S., she and other Democrats should know that some of their own favored institutions may soon be in the legal crosshairs of Republican Attorneys General.