Fla. lobbyists appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

By Kathy Woods | Aug 14, 2009

MIAMI (Legal Newsline)-A case pending in the U.S. Supreme Court has given lobbyists in Florida hope that they will once again be able to wine and dine state lawmakers.

Currently, Florida state law bans lobbyists from giving gifts to legislators, and requires them to file disclosures on who pays them and how much.

Lobbyists are hoping that when the court rules in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission it could establish precedent to overrule the Sunshine State's law.

U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle had ruled that the disclosure requirement did not violate the First Amendment. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the ruling.

A writ of certiorari was filed by Miami attorney Thomas Julin on behalf of lobbyists Ron Book, Guy Spearman and the lobbyist association.

They are arguing that that the disclosure requirement violates the free speech amendment and their constitutional right to equal protection.

The questions before the court in the case are whether state law requiring disclosure of the identities of those paying for grassroots lobbying violates the First and Fourteenth amendments due to vagueness and over breadth, and whether a state law that prohibits gift giving for the purpose of lobbying violates the U.S. Constitution.

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