National Rifle Association of America v. Vullo

Brief to the Supreme Court of Financial and Business Law Scholars as Amici Curiae in Support of Petitioner

Interest of the Amici Curiae

Brian R. Knight is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research focuses on financial regulation. Mr. Knight submits this brief as part of his work as a Mercatus scholar. The Mercatus Center as an organization takes no position on the arguments in this brief or issues in the case.  

George A. Mocsary is Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming College of Law. His research focuses on firearms law and business law, with a special focus on the intersection of firearms law and insurance law. 

Petitioner’s case is important to amici because it involves financial regulators’ unique powers to bind regulated firms even via informal and indirect statements and guidance. 

Summary of the Argument 

The court below erred in finding that the lack of explicit binding language or threats from the New York Department of Financial Services in its guidance letters meant that no reasonable regulated firm would consider itself bound by those letters. The reality of banking and insurance regulation is that firms frequently feel that they risk sanction if they do not comply with nominally non-binding guidance.

Further, the use of guidance and reputation risk as tools of regulation has shown itself to enable abuses where regulators sought to enforce their policy preferences, rather than the law, under the guise of protecting the safety and soundness of regulated financial firms. 

Finally, the nature and logic of reputation risk regulation, even if applied by a neutral regulator, enables a regulator-enforced “economic hecklers veto” by parties with sufficient economic power over a regulated firm. 

Additional Details

Download full Amicus Brief (PDF) here.