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Supreme Court to hear NRA appeal in free speech lawsuit against former New York official

The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear an appeal from the National Rifle Association over comments made by a former New York state official who urged insurance companies and banks to discontinue their association with gun-promoting groups after the mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida.

The high court will hear arguments early next year in the NRA's appeal, which claimed that former New York State Department of Financial Services superintendent Maria Vullo violated the group's First Amendment rights with her remarks.

After the February 2018 shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people, Vullo spoke out against gun violence. She issued "guidance letters" to businesses and a press statement calling on banks and insurance companies operating in New York to consider "reputational risks" arising from doing business with the NRA or other gun groups.

The NRA, headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, sued Vullo after multiple entities cut ties or decided not to do business with the organization. The federal appeals court in New York rejected the NRA's claims, saying Vullo had acted in good faith and in within the bounds of her job.

By the end of 2018, three insurance providers, including Lloyd's of London, had entered into consent decrees with the state, agreeing that some NRA-endorsed insurance programs they offered violated New York insurance law. They agreed to pay a total of over $13 million in fines.

The consent decrees were reached following a state investigation into the legality of some NRA-endorsed insurance programs that covered losses caused by firearms, even when the insured person intentionally killed or hurt somebody.

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