First Amendment Challenge To Mandatory Membership, Bar Fees Reaches Supreme Court

The Daily Caller | 1/6/2020 | Staff
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Approximately 30 states require lawyers to join a bar association and pay membership fees in order to practice law. Two lawyers are challenging that regime on First Amendment grounds.

The plaintiffs say the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision barring mandatory “agency fee” payments to public sector unions forecloses the integrated bar regime.

Dispute - Reach - Ruling - Janus - V

The dispute is one of several testing the reach of the 2018 ruling, called Janus v. AFSCME.

Some 30 states require attorneys to join a bar association and pay membership fees as a condition of practicing law. Two lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to declare that practice, called the “integrated bar,” unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.

Lawyers - Adam - Jarchow - Michael - Dean

The lawyers, Adam Jarchow and Michael Dean, are members of the state bar of Wisconsin. They object to positions the bar has taken on a number of subjects, including felon voting rights, the death penalty, and criminal-justice issues.

“It should go without saying that Wisconsin attorneys do not all share the same vision for the law and the administration of justice and so may disagree with the State Bar’s positions on any number of important public policies, as the Petitioners do,” their petition reads. “Nonetheless, they are all compelled by State law to subsidize its advocacy in support of those positions and other speech by the Bar with which they disagree.”

Supreme - Court - Bar - Decisions - Jarchow

Though the Supreme Court expressly sanctioned the integrated bar in past decisions, Jarchow and Dean say the model is untenable following the court’s 2018 decision in Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, a five-justice majority said public-sector unions cannot force government workers to pay mandatory “agency fees” to cover the cost of collective bargaining.

“The compelled-dues aspect of Wisconsin’s integrated-bar scheme is identical to that of the agency-fee scheme invalidated in Janus,” the Jarchow petition reads.

Case - Keller - Supreme - Court

In a 1990 case called Keller, the Supreme Court turned away a...
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