NAM Challenge “Dismissed in its Entirety”

The Politico reports that NAM’s challenge to an HLOGA provision regarding coalitions has faltered.

A federal judge has rejected a challenge by the National Association of Manufacturers to a key section of a new lobbying disclosure law, meaning the powerful trade group must now disclose the identity of it members who pay more than $5,000 every quarter for NAM’s lobbying help and “actively participate in the planning, supervision, or control” of its lobbying work.

In a ruling issued today by District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, section 207 of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act – which outlines the new disclosure requirements facing NAM, other trade associations and “stealth coalitons” set up to lobby lawmakers on particular issues – was found to be constitutional.

NAM, in a legal challenge filed on Feb. 6, had argued that the provision was a violation of its First Amendment rights to petition – even anonymously – the government for the redress of grievances. NAM sued the House and Senate over implementation of the provision, as well as the Justice Department. Several government watchdog groups filed motions in support of the provision. NAM argued that some member companies would withdraw from the association over fear that unpopular and controversial lobbying activities would be publicly exposed.

But in a 57-page ruling, Kollar-Kotelly thoroughly reviewed NAM’s legal arguments and rejected them.

“In sum, the Court concludes that [Congress and DOJ] have met their burden of showing that [section 207 of HLOGA] ‘is ‘closely drawn’ and ‘thus avoid[s] unnecessary infringement’ of First Amendment rights,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

The full opinion is available at the District Court’s website here.

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