Advocacy or Antitrust? Competitive Engagement and Political Advocacy Under the First Amendment

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Advocacy or Antitrust? Competitive Engagement and Political Advocacy Under the First Amendment

Ramsin Canon, Senior Vice President & Director Legal Services, Saint Consulting Group , USA

Fierce business competitors have to step lightly to avoid liability under expansive American antitrust law and Anglo-American ‘commercial interference’ torts. However, both federal and state courts have increasingly interpreted the American constitutional guarantee of the freedom to petition the government as shielding competitors who engage each other in political or legal contexts. In-house practitioners should be aware of the shifting boundaries of First Amendment protection of these activities and develop in-house best practices to ensure both compliance and encourage engagement. Competition law in the United States, primarily the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1-7, fosters fair competition in part by proscribing ‘anticompetitive behavior’. A set of Supreme Court cases, and their progeny in the lower courts, have clarified for business competitors that there can be no ‘anticompetitive behavior’—and thus no antitrust liability—in the political arena. At company headquarters, the relationships your regional offices build and maintain with local government and the local community can seem abstract. And it is probably good practice to leave local government and community affairs work to the local offices, who have requisite sensitivity and knowledge to deal with local law and regulations. Advocacy at the local level is key.

Ramsin Canon, J.D., Esq., is a Senior Vice President and Director of Legal Services at The Saint Consulting Group. He took his juris doctor at the Chicago-Kent College of Law and is licensed to practice in California and Illinois. His practice focuses on land use and administrative law litigation, labour and employment, and municipal law. He has over a decade of experience in political consulting, government affairs, and urban politics. Ramsin has published papers on land use development agreements and the entrepreneurial government, the intersection of American labour and land use law, and a forthcoming paper on workers’ self-regulation in urban environments. He lives in Chicago.

For more than three decades, The Saint Consulting Group has been engaging and winning controversial land use projects in every major industry: retail, aggregates, energy, hospitality, infrastructure, residential construction, ports, and more. The Saint Consulting Group has won more than ninety percent of the over 1,600 projects it has engaged all over the United States and in Canada and the United Kingdom.

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