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NRA Sues San Francisco After City Declares Group a Domestic Terrorist Organization

NRA Sues San Francisco After City Declares Group a Domestic Terrorist Organization

“This action is an assault on all advocacy organizations across the country. There can be no place in our society for this manner of behavior by government officials. Fortunately, the NRA, like all U.S. citizens, is protected by the First Amendment.” — William A. Brewer III, the NRA’s lawyer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJo2xlmT29I

The National Rifle Association has filed a complaint against the city of San Francisco after a city resolution designated the non-profit group “a domestic terrorist organization.”

From the AP:

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses city officials of violating the gun lobby’s free speech rights for political reasons and says the city is seeking to blacklist anyone associated with the NRA. It asks the court to step in “to instruct elected officials that freedom of speech means you cannot silence or punish those with whom you disagree.”

Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization,” contending the group spreads propaganda that seeks to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence.

“This action is an assault on all advocacy organizations across the country,” said William A. Brewer III, the NRA’s lawyer. “There can be no place in our society for this manner of behavior by government officials. Fortunately, the NRA, like all U.S. citizens, is protected by the First Amendment.”

And from The Hill:

“This action is an assault on all advocacy organizations across the country,” said William A. Brewer III, the NRA’s attorney. “There can be no place in our society for this manner of behavior by government officials. Fortunately, the NRA, like all U.S. citizens, is protected by the First Amendment.”

CEO Wayne LaPierre said the lawsuit “comes with a message to those who attack the NRA: We will never stop fighting for our law-abiding members and their constitutional freedoms,” according to the AP.

Stefani called the lawsuit “a desperate move by a very desperate organization,” noting recent turmoil within the organization over LaPierre’s alleged use of organizational funds for expensive clothing and housing.

Complaint here:

NRA sues San Francisco by Legal Insurrection on Scribd

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Comments

I have to ask – Shouldn’t they have a slam dunk case of libel against each official who voted for the resolution?

    OnPoint in reply to gospace. | September 10, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Seems like they should, but probably can’t sue government officials acting in their official capacity, blah, blah.

      Tom Servo in reply to OnPoint. | September 10, 2019 at 8:08 pm

      You’re right, they have to sue the City of San Francisco instead of the individual councilmen. Which is what they’ve done.

      And now the taxpayers of San Fran can have the joy of funding an expensive and hopeless legal battle just because they elected idiots.

        RandomCrank in reply to Tom Servo. | September 10, 2019 at 8:28 pm

        The hopeless legal battle is the NRA’s. I’d love to be wrong, but I don’t think that lawsuit will survive summary judgment.

          It looks like the meat of it is that, in addition to the name calling, they are also directing that the city sever business ties with companies that do business with the NRA is any way shape or form.

          That really does look like a government attempting to punish a political advocacy group for their political advocacy, which I’m pretty sure does fall under the first amendment. As I recall, their suits against New York are still proceeding, for the same reason.

          RandomCrank in reply to RandomCrank. | September 10, 2019 at 9:07 pm

          It’s an interesting question, anyway. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know, but I’d think that an action would need to be filed by an entity that suffered as a result of that ban as opposed to the NRA. We shall see.

          RandomCrank in reply to RandomCrank. | September 10, 2019 at 9:33 pm

          By the way, so you know, I’m an NRA Life Member. I support them in this, but I’m doubtful that it’ll succeed. One thing about the NRA is they don’t give up. They’ll pursue the NY and SF cases as far up the chain as they can get.

        Milhouse in reply to Tom Servo. | September 11, 2019 at 12:30 am

        They’re suing the individual councilors as well.

    RandomCrank in reply to gospace. | September 10, 2019 at 8:25 pm

    Very highly doubtful. “Group libel” is extremely hard to prove unless the group is so small that individuals are readily ascertained. S.F.’s action is outrageous and offensive as hell, but I doubt their lawsuit will get anywhere. It’s completely symbolic.

      RandomCrank in reply to RandomCrank. | September 10, 2019 at 8:50 pm

      On second thought, I wonder if it’s possible for the NRA to have a chance if it filed a defamation action on behalf of the organization as an entity as opposed to its members. Still seems like a long shot, but you never know.

      I think the members are “readily ascertained” by virtue of the demand that people certify they are not associated with the group (to get contracts and such).

        Milhouse in reply to GWB. | September 11, 2019 at 12:29 am

        That’s not what readily ascertained means. If someone tells lies about NRA members no individual members can sue for it, because a reasonable person would not understand the lie to apply to every member, so no individual can show that he was meant. The defendant could say “I meant members in general, but you are clearly an exception”.

        But here the lie was told about the NRA itself, not about its members, so the question is irrelevant. The NRA can and should sue.

          I suppose the requirement to certify you have nothing to do with the NRA would be a separate actionable item for all the individuals it effects.

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | September 11, 2019 at 10:17 am

          If such a requirement is ever implemented, there would be a suit, but so long as it was only applied to new business it might not succeed; the city has its own first amendment right to boycott organizations it doesn’t agree with. Applying it to existing business would make it more likely to be struck down, but we don’t yet know whether the city intends to do that.

    Exiliado in reply to gospace. | September 10, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    As tempting as the libel angle looks, I think the First Amendment violation is the real danger here.

    I have to ask: is it true that a government can’t libel someone? The one council member showed CLEAR malice in her statements about the decision. It’s patently false. And it harms their reputation (those bits about not doing business with those who associate with them), as well as individual members in CA (because they are the ones who have to give up contracts, etc.).

    Even for a “public person” this would seem to be a slam dunk.
    And immunity would seem to be out the window since they’re violating their 1st Amendment rights in the process (so they’re not in the legal performance of their duties – conspiracy to deprive someone of their civil rights is a federal crime after all).

      Milhouse in reply to GWB. | September 11, 2019 at 12:33 am

      No, I’m pretty sure it’s not true that a government can’t libel someone.

      Mind you all but one of the assertions in the resolution are not actionable, because they’re opinions and thus protected by the first amendment. But they slipped and inserted one objective claim of fact, which is outright false and they knew or ought to have known it.

I hereby declare the San Francisco Board of Supervisors too stupid to be allowed out of the house without close, adult supervision.

    Lewfarge in reply to Rusty Bill. | September 10, 2019 at 9:34 pm

    Need to red flag every one of them for knives, razor blades, scissors, pins and needles. Punch back twice as hard.
    BTW these red flag laws are a “legal” way to “swat” people !

“It asks the court to step in “to instruct elected officials that freedom of speech means you cannot silence or punish those with whom you disagree.'”

What kind of remedy is that supposa be? How do you eliminate, through a court order, the hate and animus towards non-lefty thought in SF government and its employees?

There is an *extremely* short line between Red Flag laws and this. After all, anybody who is a member of a domestic terrorist organization should be barred from owning firearms, right? It fits in with the two part Democrat gun control agenda I’ve said before
Dems:
1) Only sane people should be permitted to own guns.
2) Anybody who wants to own a gun is crazy.

    RandomCrank in reply to georgfelis. | September 10, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    At that point, I think a lawsuit would be a slam dunk.

      Yes, that would be exactly the same as “anyone who votes Republican is crazy”; there isn’t a judge in the country, no matter how left-wing, who wouldn’t strike that down.

        Voyager in reply to Milhouse. | September 11, 2019 at 11:15 am

        Does not have to be written into the law for the law to be enforced as though it were true.

        Back in the day campaigning for office as a Republican in certain States was investigated as though it were a criminal enterprise.

    2) Anybody who wants to own a gun is crazy.
    Except for the people who protect me, of course. /prog

      Yeah, I was listening to the Cruz/Milano meeting, and the poor gal was wailing, “None of us want to take your guns! I have guns of my own.” while the others were happily talking about how they were going to do just that.

      That whole Facebook video is an exercise in lying on the Left’s side, and angelic patience on Cruz’s side. He’s really starting to impress me.

I’m waiting for the bloggers and commenters with legal training to weigh in here, but the one thing in the resolution that most caught my attention was the assertion that the NRA “incites violence”.

To the left advocating for the Bill of Rights makes one a terrorist.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Of course this extends to the States as does the Second. A resolution does not have the force of law…but I think it could be argued this resolution has the effect of abridging free speech and assembly.
Merely thinking out loud here.

    pst314 in reply to puhiawa. | September 10, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    “To the left advocating for the Bill of Rights makes one a terrorist.”

    Indeed: The left insists that our speech is violence while their violence is mere speech.

    oldgoat36 in reply to puhiawa. | September 10, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    If the Bill of Rights were to be voted on today, I would doubt most of it would pass. The 1st and 2nd would not, many of the Bill of Rights amendments are already trampled on to a point where they are ignored.
    The left want to do to the 2nd what they did to the 9th and 10th, and they want limits invoked on the 1st to shut up the critics of their policies while being allowed say whatever they desire. They believe in censorship provided they do the censoring.

This is an obvious case of the NRA being in the right. But right isn’t what rules in our courts these days, so I predict a VERY hard fight ahead. It will probably go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Hope Trump gets to replace Ginsburg before it gets there.

    RandomCrank in reply to irv. | September 10, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    I’m doubtful for the reasons I gave above, but I wish the NRA well on it. I agree that it’ll wind up going all the way to the Supreme Court.

I actually called the board members and asked them if I would be arrested, should I visit SF.
I got their secretaries…(now they’re called assistants..maybe secretary is sexist?)
Anyway, one started talking about gun violence, and hung up on me when I asked her to tell me which guns had been put in prison for their crimes and how many years were they sentenced to..
4 others were caught flat footed and I heard a lot of “uh…uh…uh…”
One little old lady was super sweet and said she would discuss it with the guy she worked for.

None of them allowed me to speak to a board member.
It’s fun, you should try it!

    Milhouse in reply to PapaGuns. | September 11, 2019 at 12:50 am

    I actually called the board members and asked them if I would be arrested, should I visit SF.

    The question makes no sense. On what grounds do you suspect you might be arrested?

    They didn’t even defame you, since you are not the NRA.

      How about getting arrested for aiding and abetting and giving material support to a terrorist organization?

        Milhouse in reply to MarkS. | September 11, 2019 at 10:32 am

        There is no such crime. It is a crime to give material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, which is why I’ve been harping on this point, to the annoyance of ignoramuses like “Brave Sir Robbin”. There is no equivalent category for domestic organizations, and I’m fairly sure it would be unconstitutional for congress or any state to create one. And foreign terrorist organizations are not determined by their actions, but by the fact that the secretary of state has so designated them; only the secretary of state has that authority.

The National Rifle Association has filed a complaint against the city of San Francisco after a city resolution designated the non-profit group “a domestic terrorist organization.”

It did not “designate” the NRA as anything, because it couldn’t. Not only does it not have the authority to make such a designation, nobody does — because the category doesn’t exist. That verb should therefore be “described”, or maybe “purported to designate”.

Fortunately, the NRA, like all U.S. citizens, is protected by the First Amendment.

Indeed it is, but the same amendment protects the city’s right to express its disapproval of the NRA, to insult it, and to call it stupid names. It probably also protects the city’s right to choose not to do new business with the NRA, or with its supporters, though I believe it would not be entitled to discontinue existing business.

I’m somewhat skeptical of this suit’s chances. I think the NRA would have done better to sue for defamation, for the resolution’s claim that “The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to […] incite gun owners to acts of violence”. Every other claim in the resolution is an opinion, and thus is protected by the first amendment, but this one is an assertion of objective fact, which is demonstrably false and defamatory per se, so it should be clearly actionable.

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Milhouse. | September 11, 2019 at 12:36 am

    “It did not “designate” the NRA as anything, because it couldn’t. Not only does it not have the authority to make such a designation, nobody does — because the category doesn’t exist. That verb should therefore be “described”, or maybe “purported to designate”.

    Why do you keep saying this? The term is defined in federal law.

    18 U.S. Code § 2331.Definitions:
    (5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—
    (A)involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
    (B)appear to be intended—
    (i)to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    (ii)to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    (iii)to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
    (C)occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States; and

    So here is the vector of attack. The SF BOS has no authority to designate an entity as a domestic terrorist, unless they have given themselves such power as a sovereign entity under duly enacted law or code. If they make such a designation or assertion without authority, they are not acting with sovereign immunity, but outside of their sovereign powers and functions, and therefore making defamatory statements. It is possible the individual members do not have sovereign immunity as they are acting outside the scope of their powers. Federal law does not permit them to make such designations, nor are they so empowered by state or local law or ordnance that I can ascertain.

      I keep saying it because it’s true, and you’re full of sh*t. The term “domestic terrorist organization” does not exist in US law. The act you cite defines certain criminal acts as acts of domestic terrorism. It has nothing to do with organizations. People who engage in those acts are terrorists; organizations to which they belong are not and cannot be.

      Further, there is no such thing as “designating” or “declaring” someone a terrorist. The law defines which acts make someone a terrorist, and no designation is possible or necessary.

      This is very different from foreign terrorist organizations, which is a legal category, and organizations get assigned to that category by the secretary of state’s designation. The definition of a foreign terrorist organization is not one that has done certain things, but one that the secretary of state says is one. As best as I can understand the intent behind the SF resolution, the supervisors were aiming for this and missed badly.

    to call it stupid names
    But it did not just do that. It actually stated they are a criminal organization of a specific sort. That’s not an opinion when a gov’t entity does that (even if it really doesn’t have statutory authority to do so).

    It probably also protects the city’s right to choose not to do new business with the NRA, or with its supporters
    Like hell it does. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of association, and restricts the government from constraining that. The exception would be an organization/group whose purpose is to commit crimes – hence the “terrorist” designation. AntiFa would fall into this area, it seems.

    I think the NRA should sue for both: defamation AND a conspiracy to deprive them of their 1st Amendment rights. Because both are going on here and both need to be stopped.

      Milhouse in reply to GWB. | September 11, 2019 at 10:46 am

      But it did not just do that. It actually stated they are a criminal organization of a specific sort. That’s not an opinion when a gov’t entity does that

      First of all, yes, it is an opinion. An opinion doesn’t become a fact just because a government says so. Second of all, there is no such legal thing as “domestic terrorist organization”, so it is just a stupid name, just like “poopyhead”.

      It probably also protects the city’s right to choose not to do new business with the NRA, or with its supporters

      Like hell it does. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of association, and restricts the government from constraining that.

      It also protects the government. The City of San Francisco has the same freedom of association as anybody else does. Listen to yourself — you are proposing that the government should forcibly constrain that freedom!

      The exception would be an organization/group whose purpose is to commit crimes – hence the “terrorist” designation. AntiFa would fall into this area, it seems.

      There is no such exception, which is why there is no such designation. As far as I know it is not possible to criminalize association with any organization, even criminal gangs.

        lgbmiel in reply to Milhouse. | September 12, 2019 at 7:32 pm

        No, Milhouse. Governments don’t have rights, they have powers. Citizens have Rights and powers.

        Does this sound familiar….

        We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Are you guys kidding? This is San Francisco, home of the judge who let Katie Steinle’s murderer walk. The NRA doesn’t have a prayer.

Meanwhile a federal judge, anthony J. trenga, ruled the fbi terrorist watchlist as un-Constitutional. Identifying potential, real terrorists is un-Constitutional, yet a city counci officially proclaiming pro Bill of Rights Americans as terrorists is somehow ok? You can’t make this stuff up. “liberalism is a mental disease” isnt just a saying, it is absolutely true.

    puhiawa in reply to CKYoung. | September 11, 2019 at 3:00 am

    An interesting and entertaining point. This is the judge we need ascertain the efficacy of this resolution. LOL

    DaveGinOly in reply to CKYoung. | September 11, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    I believe the judge was correct to say the watch list is unconstitutional. The decision could come in handy against a gun registry (a watch list of gun owners/potential criminals from which you may only remove yourself by surrendering your right arms) and against universal background checks.

      Milhouse in reply to DaveGinOly. | September 12, 2019 at 6:34 pm

      I don’t believe the mere existence of a list can possibly be unconstitutional. The government is entitled to compile whatever lists it likes. The question is to what use it’s put. If it were used to deprive people of any constitutional right, such as the RKBA, then that would be absolutely unconstitutional, no doubt about it, which is why the Dem proposals to do just that are unacceptable.

      The same would apply if it were used to arrest people, or to restrict their right to travel between states. But there is no right to board an aeroplane. People on the list are free to travel in any other way they like. Many of them are even free to fly, provided they submit to some extra screening. The question is whether the level of inconvenience they’re put to is enough to require due process — which there’s no question that they’re not getting.

      It seems to me that the judge may well have been right that the way people on the list are being treated now is bad enough that it requires due process. But the answer is not to stop using the list, it’s to improve the way people on it are treated. I think LEOs have an unfortunate tendency to treat people who trigger a need for extra scrutiny as if they’re probably guilty, when in fact they’re very probably innocent. LEOs need to remember, and to be constantly reminded, to treat such people with extreme courtesy, apologize for the delay and inconvenience, and basically just treat them as they themselves would want to be treated in the same circumstances.

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