March 27, 2019
Tenth Circuit partially reversed dismissal of plaintiffs’ claims.
To be determined.
In Oklahoma and 31 other states, attorneys are required to join and pay dues to a bar association to be allowed to practice law. All too often, those bar associations don’t just use members’ mandatory dues to make sure lawyers are qualified and behave ethically; they also use members’ money for political and ideological advocacy.
That violates lawyers’ First Amendment right to freedom of association and their right to choose what political speech they will and won’t support with their money. And it’s totally unnecessary. In 18 states, attorneys aren’t forced to join a bar association or pay money to a bar association to practice law—but the state still regulates attorneys, and attorneys still pay for the cost of that regulation. If those states can regulate the practice of law without forcing attorneys to surrender their First Amendment rights, then so can the others.
In Schell v. Gurich, the Goldwater Institute is representing Oklahoma attorney Mark E. Schell in a lawsuit asking the federal courts to declare that mandatory bar association membership and fees violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
This case follows two other Goldwater Institute lawsuits currently challenging mandatory membership and dues:
The plaintiff in this case is Mark E. Schell, an Oklahoma attorney who has been forced to join and pay dues to the Oklahoma Bar Association. The defendant is John Morris Williams, in his official capacity as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association.
The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on March 26, 2019.
Mr. Schell seeks an order declaring mandatory bar membership and dues unconstitutional or, at a minimum, an order declaring that a bar association may not spend member dues on political speech without receiving a member’s clear, affirmative consent in advance.
Timothy Sandefur is the Vice President for Legal Affairs at the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation and holds the Duncan Chair in Constitutional Government. He litigates to promote economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other crucial values in states across the country. Timothy is the author of eight books, including most… Read more...
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