The National Rifle Association is currently fighting a legal battle to resist efforts by the New York Attorney General to punish any corporation or financial institution that does business with the NRA — and it’s getting help from a very unlikely place. The ACLU.
The state of New York is looking to repeat the Obama Administration’s disastrous, and likely unconstitutional efforts in Operation Choke Point, a Department of Justice program that levied similar sanctions on institutions that did business with groups the Obama Administration considered “unsavory,” like gun manufacturers, fireworks vendors, home-based charities, payday lenders, pornography producers, and, according to Forbes, any “legal businesses that the Obama administration deem[ed] to be politically incorrect.”
Operation Choke Point ended in 2017, after it fell under Congressional scrutiny. The Trump Administration ended the practice completely.
But then New York decided to take up the yoke of punishing businesses it felt didn’t deserve the right to contract with whom they pleased inside the state’s borders.
Initially the NRA argued that it would suffer severe financial damage because of New York’s rules, but later, the Texas Public Policy foundation, arguing on behalf of the NRA, suggested that New York’s efforts actually impacted the NRA’s First Amendment rights.
In their amicus brief, the ACLU agreed, arguing that New York’s rule “‘would set a dangerous precedent for advocacy groups,’ no matter their viewpoint, because public officials would be encouraged to use their regulatory power against the ‘disfavored.'”
Although the ACLU never mentions gun violence (it’s official line on the subject is that the Second Amendment lists a “collective” rather than an “individual” right) they are clear that while one state may see the NRA as an insidious group, another state — or even New York under another governor — could use the power to target groups today’s New York government doesn’t oppose, like Planned Parenthood, or even the ACLU itself.
Arguments in the case are ongoing, but a verdict is expected soon.