What is a “Third House” ?
All citizens, individually or in groups, are guaranteed the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Citizens who collectively exercise their ‘right to petition’ are referred to as “interest groups” or when done so professionally as “lobbyists.” The term “lobbyist” is thought to have originally referred to the lobby or corridors of the House of Commons, where members of Parliament would gather before and after debate.
Today, lobbyists have become subject matter and process experts who promote and defend their clients’ causes, thereby enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the legislative process. As lobbyists have over time become such an integral and important piece of the legislative process, lobbyists have been referred to in the literature as the “Third House” of the legislature. Along with the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Lobby gives voice to the vast political interests of our society—so much so as to be referred to as the “Third House.”
…And so we are named.