However, the Manhattan-based justice will allow Attorney General Letitia James to continue her anti-corruption lawsuit against the N.R.A. and several of its highest-ranking executives.
A judge has found that New York Attorney General Letitia James cannot dissolve the National Rifle Association.
However, Manhattan-based Justice Joel M. Cohen will allow the state’s lawsuit to proceed.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, James claims that N.R.A. executives misappropriated tens of millions of dollars in member fees—much of which was spent on luxury travel, private plane charters, and designer clothing.
In his ruling, Cohen said that the lawsuit’s allegations of misspending, no-show contracts, and other “questionable” expenditures could be addressed through other remedies, such as fines and restitution.
However, Cohen found that James’s claims do not warrant a “corporate death penalty.”
According to The Associated Press, the lawsuit tells “a grim story of greed, self-dealing, and lax financial oversight” at the N.R.A.’s highest levels—but it does not allege that such misconduct benefited the organization, or came at the public’s expense.
The N.R.A., said Cohen, is not necessarily incapable of “continuing its legitimate activities on behalf of its millions of members.”
Furthermore, Cohen determined that preemptively closing down the N.R.A. may infringe upon its members’ First Amendment rights.
Nevertheless, James may continue to seek sanctions and penalties against the organization’s long-time leader, Wayne LaPierre, as well as several other former N.R.A. executives.
James, adds The Associated Press, is seeking to ban LaPierre from serving in the leadership of any non-profit or otherwise charitable organization conducting business in New York.
If James’s request were approved, LaPierre and his colleagues would likely be forced out of the National Rifle Association.
Despite the lawsuit’s continued progress, the N.R.A. celebrated the ruling as a victory, calling it a “resounding win for the N.R.A., its 5 million members, and all who believe in this organization.”
“The message is loud and clear,” said N.R.A. President Charles Cotton in a press release. “The N.R.A. is strong and secure in its mission to protect constitutional freedom.”
James, meanwhile, said she was “heartened that the judge rejected the N.R.A.’s attempts to thwart of the claims in our case,” but was disappointed that Cohen ruled against immediately dissolving the organization.
“We are considering our legal options with respect to this ruling,” she said. “We remain committed to enforcing New York law regardless of how powerful any individual or organization may be.”
The Associated Press notes that, shortly after James filed the lawsuit, the N.R.A. declared bankruptcy and sought to move its state of incorporation from New York to Texas. However, another judge blocked the move, finding that the N.R.A.’s bankruptcy was not in good faith and was likely initiated to escape legal accountability.
The N.R.A. has continued to insist that James’s lawsuit is a “blatant and malicious retaliation campaign against the N.R.A. and its constituents based on her disagreement with the content of their speech.”