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NYCLU Urges Federal Court to Enjoin Lobbying Investigation of Hip Hop Summit Action Network and Rockefeller Drug Laws

The NYCLU today filed an amicus brief in support of the federal lawsuit by the Hip Hop Summit Action Network to enjoin the New York State Temporary Commission on Lobbying’s sweeping investigation into the June 4 demonstration against the Rockefeller Drug Laws.

“The Lobbying Commission’s investigation of the June 4 rally against the Rockefeller Drug Laws goes well beyond the commission’s legitimate authority and violates core values of free speech and association,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.

“When the Lobbying Commission claims authority to monitor public marches, rallies, radio broadcasts and other forms of political protest – as it has here — it intimidates people from speaking out and poses a serious threat to our basic first amendment rights. This case is not just about Russell Simmons, Ben Chavis and the Hop Hop Summit Action Network. This inquisition jeopardizes the free speech rights of all of us. The NYCLU is asking the federal court to stop it.”

NYCLU Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg noted, “As a constitutional matter, the regulation of lobbying must be limited to ‘direct communication’ with legislators. A public rally cannot be regarded as “direct communication.” Moreover, the regulatory efforts by the State Commission, at issue here, can be sustained only if “nar­rowly tailored” to the pursuit of “compelling interests.” While there is a strong interest in public disclosure with regard to direct lobbying that goes on out of the public eye, there is no comparable interest to justify an investigation of a public rally.”

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