Welcome to Reuters Legal News beta. Please enjoy and provide us with your feedback as we continue to improve the Reuters Legal News experience.

Skip to main content
Skip to floating mini video

N.Y. attorney general says NRA can't support claims of unconstitutionality

5 minute read

New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, speaks during a news conference, to announce criminal justice reform in New York City, U.S., May 21, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Letitia James asks court to toss NRA countersuit
  • Doubles down on group's 'illegal conduct'
  • Motion follows NRA bankruptcy dismissal

The company and law firm names shown above are generated automatically based on the text of the article. We are improving this feature as we continue to test and develop in beta. We welcome feedback, which you can provide using the feedback tab on the right of the page.

(Reuters) - New York Attorney General Letitia James has urged a state court to toss the National Rifle Association's claims that her attempts to disband the gun rights group are unconstitutional.

James on Thursday evening filed a motion to dismiss the NRA’s counterclaims in litigation she brought last summer accusing the organization of financial misconduct, including diverting millions of dollars in charitable funds for the personal benefit of NRA executives and associates. Her lawsuit, proceeding in Manhattan state court, aims to dissolve the organization or, in the alternative, remove its leadership.

The NRA, represented by Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, responded with counterclaims accusing James of violating its right to free speech and “weaponizing” her powers to pursue a “blatant and malicious retaliation campaign” against the group because she is politically opposed to its mission. The NRA also attempted to protect itself through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas, but the judge overseeing that case threw it out in May, finding that it was not filed in good faith.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

“The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why we filed our lawsuit to remove senior leadership and dissolve the organization. For nearly a year now, the NRA has utilized one tactic after another to delay accountability, but each time the courts have rejected their maneuvers,” James said in a statement on Friday.

William Brewer, representing the NRA, said in a statement on Friday that the organization looks forward to "vindicating its members' rights" before a jury.

“(This) filing is yet 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 can't support its claims that she violated its rights under the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, adding that “illegal conduct is not subject to First Amendment protection.”

The attorney general also said that the NRA, in arguing that she “selectively” enforced New York non-profit law against it, failed to offer examples of similarly situated entities that received different treatment. Additionally, she argued, the organization didn’t allege specific facts to show that its rights have been violated.

The state court litigation was largely put on hold while James worked to have the bankruptcy case thrown out in Dallas. During the bankruptcy trial, 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 concluded in May that the bankruptcy had been improperly filed as an attempt to gain a litigation advantage in the New York lawsuit.

Judge Joel Cohen in New York State Supreme Court 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:

U.S. judge tosses NRA bankruptcy bid, letting New York seek dissolution

NRA sues NY attorney general, says she wants to destroy her 'political enemy'

New York sues to break up NRA, accuses it of corruption

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Maria Chutchian

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Maria Chutchian reports on corporate bankruptcies and restructurings. She can be reached at maria.chutchian@thomsonreuters.com.

More from Reuters