New York Attorney General Says NRA Cannot Support Claims of Unconstitutionality

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks at a press conference to announce criminal justice reform in New York, the United States on May 21, 2021. REUTERS / Brendan McDermid

  • Letitia James asks court to launch NRA counter-suit
  • Doubles the group’s “illegal conduct”
  • The motion follows the dismissal of the NRA

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(Reuters) – New York Attorney General Letitia James has urged a state court to dismiss claims by the National Rifle Association that its attempts to disband the gun rights group are unconstitutional.

James filed Thursday evening a motion to dismiss the NRA’s counterclaims in its litigation last summer accusing the organization of financial misconduct, including the embezzlement of millions of dollars in charitable funds for the personal benefit of NRA executives and associates. His trial, which is taking place in Manhattan state court, aims to dissolve the organization or, failing that, remove its leadership.

The NRA, represented by Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, responded with counterclaims accusing James of violating his right to free speech and “militarizing” his powers to carry out a “blatant and malicious campaign of retaliation” against the group because it is politically opposed to its mission. The NRA also tried to protect itself with a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas, but the judge in charge of that case dismissed it in May, saying it was not filed in good faith.

“The NRA is riddled with fraud and abuse, which is why we filed our complaint to remove senior management and dissolve the organization. For almost a year now, the NRA has used tactic after tactic to delay accountability, but each time the courts have rejected their maneuvers, ”James said in a statement Friday.

William Brewer, representative of the NRA, said in a statement Friday that the organization was delighted to “stand up for the rights of its members” before a jury.

“(This) filing is another example of Attorney General James repeating discredited accusations as she brazenly attempts to use ‘qualified immunity’ as a shield to avoid scrutiny of her abuse of power,” Brewer said. .

James argued in Thursday’s motion that the NRA cannot support its claims that it violated its rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution, adding that “illegal conduct is not subject to protection. of the first amendment ”.

The attorney general also said that the NRA, in claiming it had “selectively” applied New York nonprofit law, did not provide any examples of entities in the same situation having received a different treatment. Moreover, she argued, the organization did not allege specific facts to show that her rights were violated.

Much of the litigation in state court has been suspended as James struggles to have the Dallas bankruptcy case dismissed. During the bankruptcy lawsuit, CEO Wayne LaPierre testified about gifts he received, including yacht trips provided by a Hollywood producer who does business with the NRA, but denied any wrongdoing.

U.S. bankruptcy judge Harlin Hale in Dallas ruled in May that the bankruptcy was inappropriately filed in an attempt to gain a litigation advantage in the New York lawsuit.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Joel Cohen is overseeing the New York case. A hearing on the Attorney General’s motion to dismiss the counterclaims has not yet been scheduled.

The case is New York v. National Rifle Association of America Inc, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 451625/2020.

For James: Assistant Attorneys General Jonathan Conley, Monica Connell, Yael Fuchs and Stephen Thompson

For the NRA: William Brewer and Sarah Rogers of Brewer Attorneys & Counselors

Read more:

US judge rejects NRA bankruptcy offer, leaving New York to seek dissolution

NRA sues New York attorney general, says it wants to destroy its “political enemy”

New York sues to dismantle NRA, accuses it of corruption

Reporting by Maria Chutchian

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