A federal judge has upheld an Obama administration rule banning lobbyists from participating on advisory panels, The Washington Post reported.
The decision defended the Obama administration’s November 2009 ban on lobbyists participating on federal advisory panels, a move designed to curb the influence of these groups on the policymaking process.
The six lobbyists who brought the case were aiming to serve on the Industry Trade Advisory Committees, which advise the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade representative on policy. They argued they should not be denied a “valuable government benefit” because they had exercised their First Amendment right to petition the government.
But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that lobbyists have no legal entitlement to sit on panels. In addition, participation does not constitute a benefit as defined by previous court cases, she said. The lobbyists noted that these positions look good on their resumes and provide good experience.
“Indeed, plaintiffs’ argument that ITAC service is a benefit because it helps them market themselves as real government insiders just proves the point that the government could reasonably believe that excluding lobbyists from ITAC services would increase public confidence that government is not being overtaken by insiders,” Jackson said.
According to the General Services Administration, there are about 1,000 federal advisory panels with more than 60,000 people serving on them. These panels were designed in the 1970s for government administrators to receive technical advice and consulting on federal policy development.