Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (italics added)
The lobbying profession like religion, political speech, news media, and protestors all have their rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Petitioning or lobbying the government was thought of by the Founding Fathers from the start based upon the long held English notion of petitioning the King to address grievances.
The term “lobby” derives from the Old High German louba, meaning hall or roof and its original use was not about government but about theaters. It came to be used in 18th-century British theaters, where the “box-lobby lounger” became a common sight, and he was someone who came not to see the play but to chat with the well-connected Londoners streaming through the lobby just outside their box seats. Lobby loungers showed up in American theaters, too, and provided the basis for the political version’s term.
The first lobby in the Capitol, seen as a semicircle near the bottom of this early floorplan to the left, was where most people came to bend the ear of a Representative. The switch to a political use of the term “lobby” began in 1810s, in the statehouses of the northeastern United States, and, in 1817, one newspaper referred to a William Irving as a “lobby member” (as opposed to an elected member) of the New York legislature. It was the first known use of the term in print, and it must have been a recent coinage, too, because in 1818 another writer helpfully defined a lobby member as someone who was “employed to advocate by extraneous influence” for petitions before the legislature. Later, newspapers added the variations “lobbying” (1820), “lobbyism” (1824), and “lobbyist” (1846).
Today, lobbyists represent everyone- from the common person to those in labor unions to local and state government agencies, universities, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, insurance, financial services, manufacturing, energy, technology, transportation, retail, real estate, utility, agriculture and other companies. As the scale and scope of the local, state and federal government has grown with new spending, regulation, taxation and policy changes, organizations have engaged lobbyist to protect their interests.