In an opinion yesterday, Judge Schofield invoked so-called “Pullman”-abstention and thereby declined to rule on a case raising a novel state question. The case is a constitutional challenge by PR firms to a New York law requiring lobbyists to make certain disclosures. The firms argued that an advisory opinion by state regulators could be interpreted to mean that the law covered their communications with the press, in violation of the First Amendment.

Judge Schofield ruled that the state courts should interpret the law in the first instance because doing so would “avoid the ‘friction-generating error that can result when a federal court endeavors to construe a novel state [a]ct not yet reviewed by the [s]tate’s highest court,’ and because a state court determination of the meaning of the Advisory Opinion will likely resolve or modify the federal constitutional issue.”