The National Rifle Association filed suit against Los Angeles on Wednesday after the city passed an ordinance requiring contractors disclose their support for the gun-rights group in order to work with the city.
The NRA, alongside an unnamed business that supports the organization and holds work contracts with Los Angeles, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. They claim the city's ordinance is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment's free speech and free association protections as well as the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause.
"The Ordinance, on its face and as applied or threatened to be applied, imposes an unconstitutional ideological litmus test for independent contractors, requiring that they disclose information about their political beliefs and associations," Anna M. Barvir, counsel for the NRA, wrote in a complaint filed by the group. "The Ordinance, on its face and as applied or threatened to be applied, is unconstitutional because it seeks disclosure of Plaintiffs' political beliefs and associations solely for the purpose of withholding government contracts."
Los Angeles ordinance 186000 took effect on April 1, 2019. The ordinance requires nearly anyone doing nearly any work for the city to tell the city whether it sponsors the NRA or even if it merely has contracts with the gun rights organization. The ordinance states the disclosure is designed to ensure the city doesn't do business with contractors that may not support council members' gun-control positions.
"The City of Los Angeles has enacted ordinances and adopted positions that promote gun safety and sensible gun ownership," the ordinance said in part. "The City's residents deserve to know if the City's public funds are spent on contractors that have contractual or sponsorship ties with the NRA. Public funds provided to such contractors undermines the City's efforts to legislate and promote gun safety."
The NRA countered by saying, "The Ordinance does, in fact, chill the speech of current and prospective City contractors with ties to Plaintiff NRA. In fact, several contractors with ties to Plaintiff NRA refused to be named or to participate in this lawsuit, fearing that the City will retaliate against them and revoke or reject City contracts based on their relationship to NRA."
Los Angeles city leaders are standing behind the ordinance despite the lawsuit.
"I support this policy, I'm confident in it, and we're not going to be bullied by the NRA," Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) told NPR.
"The NRA's First Amendment rights remain firmly in place while the City chooses to exercise its own rights to require disclosing who has ties to the NRA, so residents of Los Angeles know how and where their tax dollars are being spent," council member Mitch O'Farrell (D.), who originally introduced the ordinance, told the news station.
The NRA is requesting the court throw out the ordinance and award them damages as well as require the city pay for its attorneys’ fees should it win.