Issues

Federal Judge Blocks Ordinance Aimed at Exposing Corporate Contracts With NRA

President Donald Trump at the National Rifle Association annual meeting / Getty Images

A federal judge Wednesday struck down a Los Angeles ordinance that would have forced companies in order to disclose any connection to the NRA to get government contracts, calling the law an effort to "suppress" association with the gun-rights group.

California district court judge Stephen Wilson ruled the city's ordinance violated numerous constitutional protections, including the First and Fourteenth Amendments. In the ruling, Wilson wrote that "the record here supports Plaintiffs' contention that the purpose of the Ordinance is to deter association with the NRA," and granted the gun-rights group's request for a preliminary injunction.

"The City has no interest in the suppression of political advocacy—regardless of how distasteful it finds the content," Wilson wrote. "The Ordinance is therefore incompatible with the Constitution, and Plaintiffs are likely to be successful on the merits of their First Amendment speech claims."

The NRA applauded the ruling as a defense of First Amendment rights.

"This is an important win for the NRA, our members, and all who believe in America's constitutional freedoms," Andrew Arulanandam, the NRA's managing director of public affairs, told the Washington Free Beacon. "The ruling sends a powerful message to those government officials who would take any actions that are adverse to the NRA because they dislike its political speech."

Federal courts have proven unwilling to tolerate viewpoint-based discrimination aimed at the NRA or other gun-rights organizations. Wednesday's ruling is the second time in recent months that a major California city has been forced to back away from attempts to discriminate against NRA supporters.

In September, San Francisco's city council passed a resolution declaring the NRA a "domestic terrorist organization," and told the city to stop doing business with anyone who supports the gun-rights group. In October, after the NRA filed a suit against the city, the mayor sent a memo to city employees stating the council's resolution was not binding and instructing them to disregard it.

The NRA remains locked in a fight with New York state over a similar First Amendment case. The NRA claims the state pressured financial institutions to cut ties with gun-rights groups for their political beliefs. Most recently, the federal judge in the case ordered New York to turn over documents the NRA requested during discovery so he could decide which will be made available, according to the New York Law Journal.

Wednesday's preliminary injunction may prompt the Los Angeles city council to file an appeal. None of its members responded to a request for comment.