November 16, 2012 •
Washington Grassroots Disclosure Laws Under Attack
Two groups argue that the laws are unconstitutional
An old lawsuit has been resurrected that could leave Washington’s public disclosure law involving grassroots lobbying in jeopardy. Two groups, Conservative Enthusiasts and Many Cultures, One Message, sued the Washington Public Disclosure Commission in 2010 claiming their free speech rights were violated by the law requiring grassroots campaigns to register and report with the state.
The case was dismissed by a magistrate for lack of standing. However, last week, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court heard the appeal on the dismissal and will soon be making a decision on the law in question.
At issue in the case will be whether the law is unconstitutionally vague. The law defines lobbying, among other things, as attempting to influence the passage of legislation. Included in the definition of legislation is “any other matter that may be the subject of action” by the legislature. It is this language that is the nature of the lawsuit. The two groups claim that the language is overly vague and includes “an endless possibility of matters.”
Now, it is up to the appellate court to decide whether the case will go back to the trial court for a hearing on the merits and whether the dismissal will be upheld.
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