Federal Appeals Court Rules Volunteers are Not Lobbyists - State and Federal Communications

November 5, 2019  •  

Federal Appeals Court Rules Volunteers are Not Lobbyists

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri

A law requiring a person designated by a nonprofit organization to register as a lobbyist for attempting to influence legislative activities was ruled unconstitutional on November 1.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit in Calzone v. Summers held the state cannot require a person who engages in political activities that do not involve the transfer of money or anything of value to register as a lobbyist.

The court reasoned that people who neither spend nor receive money in connection with their advocacy do not lose their First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances simply by speaking through an organization that shares their perspective.

The Missouri Ethics Commission may choose to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which has not heard a lobbyist registration case since 1954.

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