NRA Will Argue First Amendment Case Before Supreme Court

When the National Rifle Association (NRA) argues before the U.S. Supreme Court, the expectation is for the venerable gun rights group to highlight the Second Amendment. Now, however, the organization will cite the First.

Free speech is front and center as the high court announced two cases will be heard in the gun rights realm. One deals with the ATF’s controversial bump stock ban, but the other concerns free speech rights for the NRA and others.

Esteemed constitutional and gun rights attorney Prof. Eugene Volokh will represent the group before the nine justices.

The First Amendment scholar will undoubtedly argue that the former head of New York’s Department of Financial Services engaged in unconstitutional activity.

Democrat Maria Vullo is accused by the NRA of employing “pressure tactics — including backchannel threats, ominous guidance letters and selective enforcement of regulatory infractions — to induce banks and insurance companies” to reject business partnerships with the NRA.

These egregious actions were carried out, the group maintains, over its steadfast support of Second Amendment rights.

Volokh and his legal associates wrote that the importance of this case to the public’s First Amendment rights “cannot be overstated.” Having a regulatory agency engage in inhibiting expression and association over “disfavored speech” obviously “merits this Court’s attention and reversal.”

Justices will also consider the legality of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) controversial bump stock rule.

Over half a million of these attachments are currently in circulation. They allow a semiautomatic weapon to fire more rapidly, and gun rights opponents within the ATF now classify the modified firearms as machine guns — making them illegal.

Owners were ordered by the ATF to surrender the devices, but several court challenges were immediately filed.

This led to multiple conflicting rulings by lower courts, which necessitated the Supreme Court taking up the issue. A brief and unsigned order last week signaled the justices’ intent to hear the case in the current session.

A ruling is expected by June.

As demonstrated by last year’s landmark Bruen decision, this high court is generally in favor of a broad application of Second Amendment rights. As anti-gun forces continue to squeeze gun rights, more cases are expected to reach the Supreme Court for a final decision.