The Buckeye Institute announced on Monday it filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to support lawyers’ First Amendment rights — by ensuring they are not compelled to join bar associations that lobby for political and ideological issues that they oppose.
The brief was filed in response to Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin. The Buckeye Institute says lawyers who are forced to join state-sponsored bar associations are denied their freedom of speech and freedom of association.
“Forcing attorneys to pay bar dues that support inherently political speech in order to lawfully practice violates the attorneys’ First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association,” said Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of The Buckeye Institute. “When ‘integrated bar associations’—bars that don’t just regulate the practice of law, but also engage in advocacy — speak on matters of public concern, they are engaging in inherently political speech.”
“History has shown that the Supreme Court’s attempt to delineate between activities germane to improving legal services and ‘activities of an ideological nature’ does not work,” Alt added. “Speech about improving legal services is inherently political and touches on issues about which people can and do disagree.”
The Buckeye Institute recently filed an appeal to the Supreme Court in Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine (AFUM), The Ohio Star reported. That case involves a professor who has called for an end to laws that force public-sector employees like him to accept compelled union representation.
Jarchow v. State Bar of Wisconsin was filed by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. It challenges Wisconsin’s integrated bar system that requires attorneys to become members of the state-sponsored bar association which engages in political speech and lobbying in order to practice law in Wisconsin. In the Janus ruling, the Supreme Court established that the state cannot force people to join or pay fees to an organization that is inherently political as a condition of their employment.
Wisconsin is one of 32 states that force lawyers to join state-sponsored bar associations that engage in advocacy on matters of public concern in order to practice law.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.