Los Angeles Must Pay NRA $150,000 For Legal Fees In Case They Lost

(FreedomJournal.org)- The National Rifle Association has won a battle with the city of Los Angeles in court.

A federal court ruled LA had to give the NRA $150,000 because it violated the First Amendment rights of the gun-rights group. A city ordinance that punished prospective contractors that had tied to the NRA was struck down by federal district court judge Stephen Wilson in December. The judge ruled the law was an infringement on the First Amendment rights to free association and free speech.

This week, the same judge forced city officials to pay for the NRA’s legal fees in the case, which totaled almost $150,000. In his December ruling, Wilson wrote:

“In this case, the text of the Ordinance, the Ordinance’s legislative history, and the concurrent public statements made by the Ordinance’s primary legislative sponsor evince a strong intent to suppress the speech of the NRA. Even though the Ordinance only forces disclosure of activity that may not be expressive, the clear purpose of the disclosure is to undermine the NRA’s explicitly political speech.”

The ordinance in question was implemented in April 2019. Shortly after, the NRA filed a suit against it.

An NRA spokeswoman, Amy Hunter, told the Washington Free Beacon that Wilson’s rulings who Los Angeles unfairly targeted the gun-rights group because of what it advocates. She said:

“Violations of any constitutional rights by government officials should carry consequences. The courts have rightfully imposed those consequences upon Los Angeles. The NRA will continue our fight and, as always, work to hold politicians accountable.”

The ordinance in question was called Ordinance No. 186000. It explicitly said that the law was intended to prevent the city of Los Angeles from doing business with any people or organization that had ties to the National Rifle Association. The ordinance read:

“The City of Los Angeles has enacted ordinances and adopted positions that promote gun safety and sensible gun ownership. The City’s residents deserve to know if the City’s public funds are spent on contractors that have contractual or sponsorship ties with the NRA. Public funds provided to such contractors undermines the City’s efforts to legislate and promote gun safety.”

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti tried to defend the ordinance. Mitch O’Farrell, the city councilman who sponsored the ordinance said “the NRA’s First Amendment rights remain firmly in place.”

But the judge soundly disagreed. Wilson said:

“The City adopted the Ordinance ‘because of disagreement with the message’ of the NRA and with the explicit intent to suppress that message — the Ordinance should therefore be considered a content-based regulation of speech.”

In February, Los Angeles agreed to repeal this ordinance. When they did so, they had to stop enforcing it, and they had to notify all contracts that they didn’t have to disclose any ties they may have with the NRA.

A similar ordinance in San Francisco was stopped by the city’s Democratic mayor in response to a lawsuit filed by the NRA. The group is still fighting New York officials in court over a warning they gave to banks to not work with the NRA.