According to Jan Witold Baran, "a lawyer and former general counsel of the Republican National Committee",
There is irony here. The same constitutional provision that ensures the press may proclaim a lobbyist's guilty plea also protects the act of lobbying. The First Amendment is well-known for guaranteeing freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion. Often overlooked in its litany of fundamental civil liberties is the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." It is this distinct clause that prevents Congress and the president from enacting a law that bans lobbying. It is a right that should not be taken lightly and that should not be eroded by the fraudulent acts of a single lobbyist.You have to love these Republican strict constructionists, with their slavish devotion to original intent.
Congress shall make no law ... abridging ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.I'm sure the Founding Fathers had Abramoff-style golf outings to St. Andrews in mind when they thought of a peaceful assembly to petition for the redress of grievances. Aren't you? (Or did they have such trips in mind, but to less expensive venues to be better in keeping with the loosely enforced rules limiting the size of gifts to House members?)
Or is this yet another of those areas where originalism and textualism must quietly cede to modernity. It is somehow good in this context that the Supreme Court takes a much broader view of what constitutes protected conduct under the First Amendment than either original intent or the plain language of the Constitution would permit, so we'll turn a blind eye?
I'm approaching Mr. Baran's argument as if he takes the party line on constitutional interpretation, which may be unfair to him. But I don't hear the leaders of the Republican Party lamenting the liberal Supreme Court whose expansionist interpretations of plain language forced them to accept gifts and contributions from the likes of Abramoff.
There may be others who bend the rules, but Abramoff retired the cup for outrageous conduct in the name of lobbying.There may be others who bend the rules? Oh, I think we can safely say that there are others.