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Federal judge backs ban on lobbyists on government boards

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge has backed the Obama administration's ban on lobbyists serving on government advisory boards.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed a lawsuit by six lobbyists who had challenged the ban. The lobbyists wanted to serve on Industry Trade Advisory committees that provide advice to the Commerce Department or U.S. Trade Representative.

In their lawsuit, the lobbyists claimed the policy violated the First Amendment by depriving them of a valuable government benefit because they have petitioned the government over issues.

But in her ruling, Judge Jackson said that serving on such a board does not qualify as a valuable government benefit, like tax exemptions or unemployment benefits, which the Supreme Court has said can't be withdrawn as a result of an individual's exercise of his First Amendment rights.

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