WASHINGTON — A federal judge upheld the Obama administration’s ban on federally registered lobbyists serving on trade advisory boards and commissions in a ruling issued on Wednesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed the lawsuit brought by six lobbyists, including executives from the American Apparel & Footwear Association, National Council of Textile Organizations and National Retail Federation, challenging the Obama administration’s ban.
Stephen Lamar, executive vice president at AAFA; Erik Autor, vice president and international trade counsel at the NRF; Cass Johnson, president of NCTO, and Nate Herman, director of government relations at the Travel Goods Association were four of the six lobbyists named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit and well known in the industry.
The lawsuit charged that the Executive Branch’s policy to exclude the registered lobbyists from serving on the Industry Trade Advisory Committees, or ITACs, which are managed by the Commerce Department and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, was unconstitutional because it violated their First Amendment rights and denied “equal protection of the laws.” Plaintiffs were seeking an injunction directing Commerce and USTR to consider their applications for membership to the ITACs, as well as a declaration that the policy is unconstitutional.
However, the judge sided with the government.
“…The plaintiffs have not supplied the necessary predicate for their First Amendment argument because the allegations in the complaint do not establish that service on an ITAC is a valuable government benefit that an individual committee member could receive,” the judge wrote in her ruling. “But even if it is, plaintiffs have not been denied that benefit on a basis that infringes upon their constitutionally protected rights and they have not been penalized for or inhibited in the exercise of their rights.”
The lawsuit stemmed from a policy directive handed down by the White House and President Obama in September 2009, informing federal agencies to bar federally registered lobbyists from serving on agency advisory boards and commissions, charging that “big money” special interest groups wielded too much influence in shaping policies. That move made it more difficult for the fashion industry’s cadre of lobbyists to influence the government’s trade policy and forced retailers and apparel brands, as well as the industry’s trade associations, to rethink their lobbying strategies with federal government agencies.
USTR shares jurisdiction with the Commerce Department over 16 industry trade advisory committees. The Obama administration’s policy left company executives, academics and other nonregistered experts to serve on the advisory committees.
A percentage of the textile and apparel ITAC 13, which has 34 members, was removed when the guidelines were enforced. The advisory committee now includes executives from companies such as Jockey International Inc., Mount Vernon Mills Inc., PVH Corp., Levi Strauss & Co. and VF Corp. Some members of the trade associations still sit on the ITACs, but they are not registered lobbyists.
Johnson of NCTO said at the time the lawsuit was filed that his 10 years of knowledge and experience of the industry were no longer directly available to the government as a result of the ban. He also argued that the ban, in addition to denying his First Amendment rights, essentially allowed big corporations to hire people to sit on the ITACs but put small and medium-size companies at a disadvantage because of the burdensome costs associated with hiring someone or assigning a new person.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast