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US Supreme Court unanimously rules to uphold free speech, curb discriminatory de-banking

Thursday, May 30, 2024

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco regarding a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday in National Rifle Association of America v. Vullo, in which the court ruled that the NRA’s case alleging that the state of New York pressured banks and insurance companies to cease doing business with them could move forward:

“American democracy operates best when all viewpoints are respected and allowed to exist in the marketplace of ideas. When government officials try to punish individuals or organizations with whom they disagree through de-banking, they strike at the heart of the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision is a big win for every American. The First Amendment protects Americans from government censorship and punishment for disfavored views, and the decision rightly affirms government officials can’t engage in censorship-by-proxy schemes like the pressure New York placed on banks and insurance companies to deny the NRA service for their constitutionally protected expression. Penned by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the decision is a hard-fought victory by the ACLU that benefits every American. We look forward to the Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision in Murthy v. State of Missouri, a similar case of indirect censorship by the Biden administration.”

In its decision, the Supreme Court wrote the following:

“At the heart of the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause is the recognition that viewpoint discrimination is uniquely harmful to a free and democratic society. When government officials are ‘engaging in their own expressive conduct,’ though, ‘the Free Speech Clause has no application,’ … While a government official can share her views freely and criticize particular beliefs in the hopes of persuading others, she may not use the power of her office to punish or suppress disfavored expression … [T]he First Amendment prohibits government officials from wielding their power selectively to punish or suppress speech, directly or (as alleged here) through private intermediaries.”

In January, ADF attorneys filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of pro-life pregnancy resource network Heartbeat International, urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the National Rifle Association in the case. Samuel Salario, one of more than 4,500 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, assisted with the brief.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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