Interest Groups in Texas


The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, which we usually think of as the right of an individual to openly express a point of view – even a controversial one. But the amendment goes on to guarantee “…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The right to assemble and express a collective opinion is really a constitutional right to form interest groups, and to lobby on public policy issues. If the Texas chapter of the Sierra Club organizes a group to lobby state legislators on climate change issues, they’re exercising their constitutional right to express a collective opinion. If the Texas Association of Realtors organizes a group to lobby the legislature to repeal a real estate tax they consider unfair, what are they doing? They’re peaceably assembling, and they’re petitioning their state government for a redress of grievances. If the Texas Barber Association lobbies against a sales tax on haircuts, they’re doing the same thing.