Monday, November 5, 2007

U.S Supreme Court Decision Protects Nonprofit Grassroots Lobbying

U.S. Supreme Court Decision Protects Nonprofit Grassroots Lobbying

The U.S. Supreme Court released a decision in June that protects the right of nonprofits to engage in issue advocacy around the time of an election, primary, or convention. In a 5-4 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court found that a federal law limiting electioneering communications was unconstitutional when applied to grassroots lobbying by nonprofits. The N.C. Center for Nonprofits is pleased that this decision upholds and affirms the First Amendment rights of nonprofits to engage in grassroots lobbying on legislation related to their missions in the weeks leading up to an election.

The case involved television and radio advertisements aired by a 501(c)(4) nonprofit encouraging members of the public to contact two U.S. Senators and urge them to take action on a specific issue. The Federal Election Commission sought to prevent the ads from airing prior to an election because one of the Senators mentioned was running for re-election. Earlier this year, the N.C. Center for Nonprofits joined in an amicus brief arguing that this election law provision should not prohibit legitimate nonprofit grassroots lobbying activities.
- NC Center for Nonprofits

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