WaPo Deputy Editor: James Out Of Line On NRA

There are a lot of places one might expect to see New York Attorney General Letitia James called out for crossing the line by trying to dissolve the NRA. Here, Townhall, RedState, PJ Media, The Daily CallerThe Daily Wire, and a few other places, to be sure.

There are also a lot of places you don’t expect someone to call James out, and that’s pretty much anywhere in the mainstream media.

Oh, some of the syndicated op-ed contributors probably would, to be sure. The newspapers that would run them will pretend that doing so would make them balanced and unbiased, but we’d all know better. Further, that would be as far as anyone would go at these papers.

So, imagine my surprise to find that the deputy editorial page editor for the Washington Post stepping up to say James overstepped.

I loathe the National Rifle Association. With its reflexive opposition to even the mildest gun regulation, it is complicit in the deaths of thousands.

OK, not the most promising of starts, to be sure, but hold on for a sec.

And yet, I worry that New York Attorney General Letitia James has gone too far in her bid to dissolve the organization. Even assuming that the facts laid out in the state’s lawsuit against the NRA are true — and I believe every word about chief executive Wayne LaPierre’s jaw-dropping greed — the right remedy is fixing the NRA, not dismantling it.
The NRA has a First Amendment right to its misguided understanding of the Second. Forcing its dissolution has disturbing implications — made even more disturbing by the fact that the attorney general seeking that step is a Democrat who vowed during her campaign to “take on the NRA” and labeled it a “terrorist organization.” In this country, we don’t go after entities because of what they advocate.
James’s lawsuit against the NRA does not mention ideology, even if it strains credulity to think that James would have gone after the ACLU or Planned Parenthood with equal zeal if there were similar facts. Still, the facts as alleged are jaw-dropping — and, if you were a donor who dug deep in defense of gun rights, should be enraging.
But dissolution? This is within the attorney general’s powers to seek, and it has happened before, most notably to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, the pseudo-charity operated by the president and his family. James’s predecessor, Barbara Underwood, accused the foundation of “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” and it agreed in 2018 to shut down and to distribute its remaining assets.
Count me uncomfortable. Prosecutors shouldn’t seek sentences they think would be excessive because they figure the judge will end up going easier on the defendant. And while other groups aren’t likely to present such egregious fact patterns, consider the threat of a conservative attorney general going after a disfavored liberal group.

Now, deputy editor Ruth Marcus and I probably disagree on a great deal. She’s clearly not a fan of the NRA and apparently has a rather warped understanding of what “shall not be infringed” actually means. That said, if she can clearly see that James is going after the NRA for clearly partisan reasons, how hard would it be for anyone else?

The idea that James is looking out for the NRA’s members and donors is laughable on the face of things.

No, we all know the real reasons.

Yet even people are James’s side of the gun debate see what she’s doing and are deeply uncomfortable with it. They should be.

After all, politically-motivated persecution prosecution is something no one should tolerate. It’s only a matter of time before this is used to justify going after another organization, this time one the left actually likes. This use of the legal system to try and punish ideological enemies runs counter to everything we hold dear as a nation. It’s something we’re supposed to be above.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

Luckily, even some in the media who might otherwise ignore assaults on the NRA are being made uncomfortable by this. The real question is, just how many aren’t?