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Archive for August 31st, 2020

The ACLU’s Legal Director, David Cole, wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week that the NRA has a right to exist and, whether you agree with the NRA or not, we should all be concerned when a government official seeks to abolish an organization that speaks for millions of members.

Our democracy is premised on the right of association. The First Amendment protects not only the right to speak, but also to band together with others to advance one’s views. Making or resisting change in a democracy requires collective action, and a healthy democracy therefore demands a robust “civil society.” The right to associate can’t survive if officials can shut down organizations with which they disagree. The Supreme Court has notably invoked that right to protect union members, Communist Party adherents, the Boy Scouts and the NAACP.

And this isn’t the first time the ACLU has supported the NRA from a political attack:

That’s why two years ago, we supported the NRA’s lawsuit charging Gov. Cuomo with violating its First Amendment rights. Mr. Cuomo moved to dismiss the case, but a federal judge ruled against him, holding that if he targeted the NRA for its gun-promoting views, he violated its First Amendment rights.

And that’s why we believe Ms. James has also gone too far. Dissolution of a nonprofit is the most extreme remedy state regulators can seek. It has historically been reserved for organizations that are essentially false fronts for personal gain.

The ACLU is just the latest in organizations calling the New York Attorney General’s attack on the NRA a dangerous political game. The last time the ACLU came to the NRA’s defense it cost the ACLU in donations. It will likely do the same this time but the organization is showing that at least in this case, standing by the Constitution is more important than politics.

 

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