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ACLU Texas won’t side with national group over NRA First Amendment case

A man in a blue suit and glasses stands behind a podium. The letters NRA can be seen in the background.
Michael Conroy
Wayne LaPierre, CEO and executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association speaks at the National Rifle Association Convention in Indianapolis, Friday, April 14, 2023.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas will not side with the national ACLU's decision to represent the National Rifle Association in a First Amendment case before the Supreme Court, the Texas organization announced Friday.

In a statement posted to its social media accounts, the Texas organization said they "strongly" oppose the use of resources in the wake of gun violence in the United States. ACLU of Texas cited mass shootings in El Paso and Uvalde as some gun violence examples within the state.

"The people of Texas come first," the organization said on X.

The nationally focused, New York-based ACLU announced Dec. 9 that it would represent the NRA against New York’s Department of Financial Services for "abusing its regulatory power to violate the NRA’s First Amendment rights."

"We recognize that there may be dissenting voices within the ACLU on this particular lawsuit," David Cole, ACLU National Legal Director, said in a statement. "As an organization committed to free speech, we believe this debate and dissent within the organization make us stronger."

The NRA sued former New York State Department of Financial Services superintendent Maria Vullo after she urged companies to consider “reputational risks” from doing business with the NRA following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

"Should [Vullo] be permitted to do this in New York, it would create both a precedent and a playbook for other states to effectively silence opposition advocacy groups," Cole said.

This is not the first time the ACLU has backed the NRA.

In 2018 the organization filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the NRA after former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was accused of threatening New York banks and insurers that associated with the NRA or other “gun promotion” groups.

“The ACLU does not support the N.R.A. or its mission," Cole said. "We signed on as co-counsel because public officials shouldn’t be allowed to abuse the powers of their office to blacklist an organization just because they oppose an organization’s political views."

The ACLU of Texas receives funding through local and national donations, according to the organization's website. Contributions directed specifically to their affiliate organization go to them.

The ACLU of Texas joins the New York Civil Liberties Union. The NYCLU announced it would not join with the national organization on Dec. 9.

"The NRA is among the most powerful advocacy organizations in the country, with resources to secure the nation’s finest lawyers," the NYCLU said in a statement. "It does not need the ACLU to volunteer for that job."

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

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Megan Cardona is a daily news reporter for KERA News. She was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.