A request or plea sent to one or both chambers from an organization or private citizens’ group asking support of, or opposition to, particular legislation or favorable consideration of a matter not yet receiving congressional attention. Petitions are referred to appropriate committees.
Petitions are normally addressed to individual representatives or senators. Members may present petitions from citizens or groups outside their constituencies.
Under House Rule XII, clause 3, members forward petitions they receive to the clerk of the House for referral to committees having jurisdiction over the petition’s subject. The text of the petition, the name of the first signer, the number of other signers and their general place of residence are printed in the Journal and published in the Congressional Record.
In the Senate, petitions are presented from the floor or delivered to the secretary of the Senate and are referred to the appropriate committee; Senate Rule VII, paragraph 4 provides a rarely used procedure in which the Senate may vote without debate on the question of receiving a particular petition or memorial.
See the First Amendment:
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.
- How to Contact Congress
- Petition the White House on the Issues that Matter to You
- Right to petition in the United States – Wikipedia
- Strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) – Wikipedia
- Anti-SLAPP Statutes and Commentary – from MLRC
- “Messages, Petitions, Communications, and Memorials to Congress,” CRS Report 98-839 (4-page PDF)
- “Yes, signing those petitions makes a difference — even if they don’t change Trump’s mind,” by Daniel Carpenter, Washington Post, February 3, 2017
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