Eighth Circuit to Hear First Amendment Petition Rights Case Friday

Missouri law forces citizens to register with the state for speaking to legislators

April 18, 2019   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Alexandria, VA – This Friday morning, Institute for Free Speech Legal Director Allen Dickerson will argue before all eleven judges of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Ron Calzone’s appeal in a First Amendment challenge to Missouri’s lobbying law. The case asks whether the state can force citizens who speak to legislators to register as lobbyists and file regular reports detailing their advocacy.

The hearing will take place in the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse at 111 S. 10th Street, St. Louis, Missouri, in the En Banc Courtroom on the 28th floor. The session begins at 8:30 AM CT, and one other case will be heard first. Calzone’s appeal is likely to be heard at approximately 9 AM CT.

As Calzone has said, “Citizens have a responsibility to engage with their elected officials, sharing ideas about how the people should be governed, and urging lawmakers to use their power in a responsible, constitutional manner.”

A three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit sided with the state in a 2-1 ruling on November 28th, 2018. Judge David Stras dissented from that decision, noting, “The [Missouri] law seemingly sweeps up all unpaid political advocacy by anyone who acts on behalf of someone else, no matter how often it occurs and regardless of its purpose.”

An appeal was filed, and the Eighth Circuit agreed on January 28th to rehear the case en banc. The panel’s ruling has been vacated. Calzone is represented by attorneys from the Institute for Free Speech and David Roland of the Freedom Center of Missouri. To read more about the case, click here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

IFS Staff