Alliance for Justice: Groups say demand for nonprofit’s internal records threatens First Amendment rights (In the News)

“We support their effort to conduct effective oversight and believe that government agencies must follow the Administrative Procedure Act,” said David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics.  “At the same time, if a Committee suspects an agency is not following the law, Congress has many tools to get needed information from government officials and agencies.  At this stage, there appears to be no need to request documents from an advocacy group, an action that could deter groups from exercising their First Amendment rights to petition government.”
“No individual or group working together should ever live in fear of a Congressional investigation for exercising their First Amendment rights,” said AFJ President Nan Aron.  “Bullying tactics clearly designed to chill the free speech of nonprofit organizations should have no place in a democracy.”
“While Congress is right to hold government agencies accountable for overreach, it needs to tread very carefully when questioning private citizens about the exercise of their First Amendment rights,” said Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.  “It has not done so here. When Congress recklessly forces the public to open its books and lives to scrutiny simply for petitioning our government, lawmakers threaten the very Constitution they have sworn an oath to defend.”