With the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal story dominating Washington, one of the cable news shows earlier this asked its viewers to go online and vote on the question of whether or not “all lobbying should be banned.” The question was both silly and stupid — and maybe even a little dangerous. Nobody likes “lobbyists” or the amounts of money that go along with their modern activities, but lobbying is what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote a protection in the First Amendment for the right to “petition the government for redress of grievances.” This right of petition is one five the First Amendment gives us (religion, speech, assembly, and press are the others), and it’s a pretty important one because it is a right extended to everyone, not just lobbyists. We should remember that before we go tossing it away.
Update. Washington lawyer Jan Baran has an excellent piece about this topic in today’s Washington Post. The article has a bit about this history of lobbying in Washington. (Posted Jan. 8. 2006)
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