Does Lobbying Need to Change?
In late September, the Association of Government Relations Professionals (in the past the American League of Lobbyists) published its support of harder exposure prerequisites for lobbyists, and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) presented the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2014, which would forever forbid previous Members of Congress from getting to be lobbyists. This is an absolutely vital piece of legislation that has been kicked around for awhile, but is now finally getting on the floor and will possibly be voted on. Because this is finally getting some consideration from Congress, it has caused some people who watch political law to propose that there is a replenished push for campaigning change.
Despite the fact that there is a developing agreement that the current guidelines may not reflect present day patterns (see, for instance, the “unlobbyists”), genuine changes still show up at some point. They have to, or the American people will continue to question how much of a say that they actually have in the government at this point in time. As a number of different professionals in the field have noted, it typically takes a real embarrassment to get Congress to act on campaigning and lobbyist change. There have been a number of different lobbying messes that have occurred over the past few years that have caused Congress to take a look at the issue.
The legislature relations affiliation’s backing of changes may be a sign that the business perceives the crevices in the current framework, yet Congress will probably require more to provoke activity. Or will it? As these laws come up more and more, Congress is going to be forced to act on them in one way or another and the world will be watching. Will lobbyists be able to have the free run that they’ve always had on Capitol Hill, or is it time for them to get a bit of a leash so that the public can have more of a say? There are, of course, a number of different laws that already govern how these people are supposed to act. But that doesn’t mean that they have not been able to find loopholes and get around those things. That being said, laws like this one will help close up some of the loopholes that have been being used for the past few years on Capitol Hill.
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IMPORTANT – Supreme Court Hears New Cases
The U.S Supreme Court opens another term on Monday in which the nine judges will choose issues, for example, whether a Muslim jail prisoner can have a beard and whether a man can be arraigned for saying threatening things on Facebook. The term, which continues to the end of June, was thought to be the one where the gay marriage debate ended – but the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, so there are other items that are starting to get more attention.
The principal case the court will hear is a North Carolina case brought by Nicholas Heien, who was charged and confessed to drug trafficking after police discovered cocaine in his car as a result of a routine stop. He decided to go to court, challenging whether police had the right to stop his auto for having a broken tail light when state law does not necessarily require two working tail lights.
Arkansas detainee Gregory Holt’s argument against the rules at a state jail will be heard early in the week as well. Holt, who at first got the attention of media when he requested permission to grow a beard about a year ago, says the rule goes against a 2000 government law giving religious rights to detainees. He needs to have about a half an inch of facial hair, as per his Muslim convictions. Holt’s legal counselors note that 44 state jails and the federal government permit detainees to have comparative facial hair. Legal experts anticipate he has a good chance of winning the case.
The Facebook threat case concerns Anthony Elonis, who posted a bunch of different statuses on Facebook after his wife left him in 2010. Intended for his wife, colleagues and others, the posts were written as rap verses in which he talked about committing brutal acts. Elonis was accused of breaking a government law about criminals sending threatening correspondences. He was indicted for four out of five of his convictions and sentenced to almost 4 years in jail. The legal inquiry is whether prosecutors really had a right to persuade the jury that the Facebook posts were threats.
Of course, there were other cases brought up as well, but these criminal cases are likely going to make some differences in the laws of the land that are already out there. These three are probably some of the most important ones that the court will look at this month.