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Ninth Circuit Hears Goldwater Institute Case on Attorneys’ Speech Rights

May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020
By Jacob Huebert

Today, the Goldwater Institute went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit—in its first court argument held by Zoom video conference—to argue that forcing lawyers to join and pay dues to a state bar association violates their First Amendment rights to freedom of association and freedom of speech–especially when the bar association promotes political views that have nothing to do with its supposed mission of regulating the practice of law.

The Institute represents two Oregon attorneys, Daniel Crowe and Lawrence Peterson, and an organization to which they belong, Oregon Civil Liberties Attorneys (ORCLA). Crowe and Peterson were motivated to challenge the state laws that require them to join and pay dues to the Oregon State Bar after they discovered that the Bar was using their mandatory dues to publish political views with which they disagree. You can watch the argument above.

The court will issue a decision in the months ahead. If the plaintiffs prevail, the case may return to the Oregon district court for further proceedings. Ultimately, however, the side that doesn’t prevail in the lower courts is likely to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to attorneys from the Goldwater Institute, the plaintiffs in the case are represented by Salem, Oregon, attorney Luke Miller, a member of Goldwater’s pro bono program, American Freedom Network.

“Like Crowe and Peterson, and some members of ORCLA, I am a retired military officer,” Miller said. “I served my country in part to ensure that the rights of others were protected, and that responsibility continues in my practice of law. When the plaintiffs approached me with this case, I jumped at the opportunity to assist. I understood this case to be of utmost importance as it seeks to protect freedom of association and freedom of speech. There were concerns of potential reprisal for bringing suit against an entity involved in licensing and regulating us, but discomfort or fear cannot control our actions when rights are infringed.”

“We contacted the Goldwater Institute about this case because their attorneys know the issue and have litigated complex constitutional issues and won. I knew the plaintiffs would be served well with Goldwater at the helm, and I’ve learned a lot in the process.”

Thanks to Luke for helping us litigate for liberty in Oregon!

Luke Miller began his career as a Marine Corps Officer and naval aviator. Now, after retiring from the military, he handles a broad range of legal issues, primarily focusing on state and federal administrative law matters. After spending most of his life, both professionally and personally, interacting with various governmental agencies, he leverages that experience navigating state and federal agencies for his clients. He enjoys not only defending clients facing civil prosecution from the state and federal government, but also working as a plaintiffs’ attorney.

Jacob Huebert is a Senior Attorney at the Goldwater Institute.



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