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Oklahoma Lawyers Get Another Day in Court to Defend Free Speech Rights

November 13, 2020

November 13, 2020
By Kileen Lindgren

This coming Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit will hear argument in Schell v. Gurich, the Goldwater Institute’s case in defense of Oklahoma attorneys’ free speech rights. In this case, Goldwater Senior Attorney Jacob Huebert has partnered with two members of our pro bono program, American Freedom Network—attorneys Anthony Dick and Charles Rogers. Together, they represent attorney Mark Schell, whose lawsuit argues that Oklahoma’s requirement that he join and pay dues to the state’s bar association as a condition of practicing law violates his First Amendment rights of free speech and association. This is particularly true in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which held that mandatory union fees violated public-sector workers’ rights.

In 2019, a federal district court declined to dismiss Schell’s claim that the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA) had failed to implement sufficient safeguards to protect attorneys’ rights, but it dismissed Schell’s challenges to mandatory bar membership and dues, concluding that Supreme Court precedent allows them. Attorneys should not have to join an organization by force, nor should they have to constantly monitor a bar association’s activities to make sure their dollars are not funding inappropriate political advocacy. Rather than bearing the burden of policing the OBA, attorneys should be able to choose to associate with this group.

That is why Schell is still challenging Oklahoma’s requirements. Anthony Dick, of Jones Day in Washington, D.C., will argue on his behalf before the Tenth Circuit on Monday, November 16, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. MST. The argument will be streamed live on YouTube here. To learn more about Schell’s challenge, visit our case page

We are grateful for partnerships with attorneys like Anthony Dick and Charles Rogers, who help make meaningful constitutional litigation possible. If you are a liberty-minded lawyer, you can learn more about pro bono opportunities with the Goldwater Institute here or by contacting Kileen Lindgren at

Kileen Lindgren is the Legal Programs Manager at the Goldwater Institute.



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