ACLU backs NRA in lawsuit against Gov. Cuomo

ACLU backs NRA in lawsuit against Gov. Cuomo
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) threw its weight behind the National Rifle Association (NRA), filing an amicus brief on the gun rights group’s behalf in its lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

The ACLU's action comes after the NRA filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Cuomo and New York’s financial regulation agency, alleging a “blacklisting campaign” aimed at getting banks to cut ties with the gun group.

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“In the ACLU’s view, targeting a nonprofit advocacy group and seeking to deny it financial services because it promotes a lawful activity (the use of guns) violates the First Amendment,” ACLU legal director David Cole wrote in his announcement of the filing on Friday.

“If the NRA’s charges are true, the state’s actions would clearly violate the First Amendment,” Cole wrote.

The ACLU argued that dismissing the NRA suit against Cuomo “would set a dangerous precedent for advocacy groups across the political spectrum."

"Public officials would have a readymade playbook for abusing their regulatory power to harm disfavored advocacy groups without triggering judicial scrutiny," Cole wrote.

Cole clarified in his announcement that the ACLU “does not oppose reasonable restrictions on guns” or object to “the governor singling out a political adversary for criticism, or mockery.”

“Our position in this case has nothing to do with our opinions on the NRA’s policies — it’s about the First Amendment rights of all organizations to engage in political advocacy without fear that the state will use its regulatory authority to penalize them for doing so,” Cole wrote.

The ACLU’s support for the NRA’s claim that their first amendment rights were violated is only the latest development in an ongoing battle gun rights advocates are waging in defense of what they say is their right to free expression.