The bureaucrats at Missouri’s Ethics Commission lost.
By one vote.
Last Friday, the commission’s outrageous attempt to force Ron Calzone, an unpaid citizen activist, to file and pay a fee as a lobbyist in order to speak to legislators in the capitol was ruled unconstitutional.
After vacating a previous 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel that had upheld that ridiculous requirement, the entire federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals weighed-in, ruling 6-5 that such a mandate was a violation of fundamental First Amendment rights.
“[C]an Missouri require Calzone to pay a fee and publicly disclose his political activities, even though he neither spends nor receives any money in connection with his advocacy?” asked the majority opinion. “We conclude that the answer is no.”
Regular readers may recognize Calzone for the same reason Show-Me State legislators know his name: he is an effective advocate for constitutional government.
And we have covered this specific battle numerous times going back to 2014, when a paid lobbyist at the behest of two legislators (tired of his grassroots input) filed an ethics complaint against Mr. Calzone.
This whole case is one of politicians and their special interest cronies using the bureaucratic, regulatory state to attempt to harass citizens into silence.
They sure chose the wrong citizen to mess with.
Be grateful to Ron Calzone who stood up for freedom during five years of court battles. And thank goodness for the legal eagles who soared to his defense — in this case the Freedom Center of Missouri and the national Institute for Free Speech.
Yet, be very afraid that while this most fundamental right to freely communicate with one’s elected representatives and speak out on legislation was sustained, it was by a narrow 6-5 vote.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
More on this particular case . . .
- Townhall: Show Me Tyranny (Sept. 13, 2015)
- Common Sense: Links to more information (Sept. 13, 2015)
- Common Sense: Citizen Registration Fee (Sept. 14, 2015)
- Common Sense: Undefeated (Sept. 25, 2016)
- Townhall: Show-Me Human Rights (Oct. 2, 2016)
- Common Sense: Insiders Strike Back (Feb. 5, 2019)
- Common Sense: Deep Show-Me State (April 19, 2019)