Should lobbying be illegal?
When I explain Lobbyists 4 Good to people, I get a lot of questions. The most frequent question I get from folks is:
"Should lobbying be illegal?"
This is a common misconception and I would like to take some time to answer this question because it comes up so often.
Lobbying is legal because it is guaranteed in the Constitution. The First Amendment of the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
The last part, the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, means that individuals, corporations, trade associations, nonprofits, and even state and county government have the right to make a complaint to or seek the assistance of the government—in other words, they have the right to lobby Congress.
A Supreme Court ruling in 1954 reaffirmed the legality of lobbying in the United States. In an opinion, Justice Jackson wrote that many lobbyists are "entirely honest and respectable representatives of business, professional, and philanthropic organizations who come to Washington openly and frankly to express their views for or against legislation, many of whom serve a useful and perfectly legitimate purpose."
So while some bad-actors exist, lobbying in general is a legal activity because it is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the constitution.
Billy is the Co-founder and CEO of Lobbyists 4 Good.